January 11, 2008
The backdrop was gold-swagged velvet drapes, and the Stones were singing "She's a Rainbow." In other words, a snapshot from London's late-sixties haute bohemia. Then out strolled a gigantic sheepskin coat, tailor-made for a superstar helicopter drop at the Isle of Wight Festival circa 1970. Except for one not-so-minor detail: It was paired with cashmere-knit sweatpants. And thus did Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana introduce one of the most successfully idiosyncratic collisions of twentieth-century dress-up and twenty-first-century dress-down that Milan has seen in recent memory. Try a houndstooth hoodie on for sizeand expect it to be generous. With the exception of a closing passage of pared-to-the-bone eveningwear (narrow-collared shirts, skinny ties, lapel-less waistcoats), the duo pumped up the volume with extravagantly oversized shearlings and jumbo sweaters, often teamed with ankle-ribbed pants. The result was an irresistible combination of glamour and comfort. If some of Dolce & Gabbana's recent menswear collections have occasionally felt like they were treading water, this one tapped into the enthusiasm of their early reputation-makers. The fabrics (jersey, corduroy, velvet) and the rustic touches (breeches, riding pants, tweed and houndstooth as favored fabrics) had a gutsy energy, amplified by styling flourishes like flat caps and ikat scarves. The passage of time has bequeathed Dolce & Gabbana a level of craftsmanship that produces leather blousons with circular patchwork, or trousers cut from a frontier-ready mouton. Sure, there's an almost parodic over-the-topness about such items, but in today's tremulous fashion climate, it's nice to know they exist.