In 1954, Maria Callas recorded a memorable version of Bellini's Norma at the Cinema Metropol, the theater where today Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana stage their fashion shows. With the legendary soprano for inspiration, their D&G collection was unapologetically operatic. Bustier dresses with lampshade miniskirts came in brocade, jewel-studded velvet, or tapestry-print chiffon, while a bustier top was paired with high-waisted jeans encrusted with big, colorful crystals. And because every diva needs a cape (a strong theme here in Milan), there was a version in ocelot-print ponyskin and another in gray fur with a collar that looked like chinchilla. The colors—ocher, burgundy, cadet blue, and black—were as lush and rich as the collection's furniture fabrics, but point d'esprit and tulle tutus in pastels worn with T-shirts printed with Callas' image lightened the mix.

As a foil to the sweetness, the designers threw in some tailcoats with trompe l'oeil frogging and gaiter pants. The models marched down the red-carpeted runway in sky-high platforms with curtain swags in their hair. You could picture some of these clothes finding their way onto the narrow shoulders of young starlets on the premiere circuit. Dolce and Gabbana's message was loud and clear: "The show must go on."