Once upon a time in Palermo, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana fell asleep and dreamed a fairy tale. Then they based their new collection on it. Which was obvious from the moment an enchanted forest rose from the bowels of the Metropol while snow swirled and Tchaikovsky's "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" played.

"Enchanted Sicily" was the title Dolce & Gabbana gave their collection, but what we saw was actually a timely departure from the overtly folkloric tone of the duo's recent collections. As wonderful as they have been, there was an inevitable sneaking suspicion that the Sicilian vein was nearing the moment when it would be well and truly tapped. Here were ten of the all-black, widow's-weeds-y outfits that established Dolce & Gabbana's fashion signature three decades ago, but they were like breathing spaces in a fantastic riot of fairies, princesses, owls, foxes, squirrels, and swans. There was even a frog for a princess to kiss. All of them were rendered in charmingly naive appliqués. The owls on a blue brocade shift were a particularly memorable combination of ultra-cute and hyper-sophisticated.

Sicily was still in the mix, but in the same way it featured in the men's collection in January. The island has been enough of a cross-cultural historical crossroads that you can basically pick an influence and run with it. For the men's show, it was the seven Norman kings who swept down from the North (very Lord of the Rings). Here, it was their female consorts who inspired the embroidery and gilding, the gothic appliqué, the studded balaclavas and gauntlets. Those antique invaders brought their myths and legends with them, and that, according to Gabbana, is when fairies arrived in Italy. The recurrent motif in the collection was the key that opened the door to a secret garden.

For all the arcana of their inspiration, the clothes themselves managed to build a bridge to the real world, or at least a world real enough for a woman to wear an A-line tweed coat with a little appliqué, a skirt suit in deepest forest green, or even one of the beautiful Riding Hood capes. As a shortcut to escape while the world's weather patterns surrender to globally warmed insanity, they could scarcely be more apt. Of course, Domenico and Stefano couldn't leave it there. They marched a platoon of gothic Tinkerbells down the catwalk as a finale. Who doesn't need some fairy dust?