Fresh from the wonders of ancient Rome and the Fendi show, the splendors of Magna Graecia beckoned with the Dolce & Gabbana Alta Moda collection staged in The Valley of the Temples in the shadow of the Sicilian town of Agrigento.
After seven years Dolce and Gabbana really know their haute couture clients, and produce their collections in the mid-century way—with something for everyone, from an ingénue ballgown with puff sleeves of clustered silk roses to a fitted Sophia Loren 1950s pencil-skirted day dress, its boat neckline showcasing a dazzling necklace of multicolored stones. Backstage, Dolce pointed out one dress with embroidery that on very closest inspection combined ribbon flowers, tulle intarsia, macramé, and beading. The workmanship included needlepoint on fine silk net in imitation of the designs on ancient amphoras (or in one instance with a leopard’s spots) and fringes of tiny bugle beads that meandered around a narrow skirt like the volutes of the Ancient Greek meandros borders.
There were cut velvets from Venice with real gold threading, reproductions of Jacques-Louis David’s neo-classical paintings printed on loose woven silk gazar that resembled artists’ canvas, hourglass jackets of white linen inset with lacis-work panels, and dresses shimmering with coral fronds—nearby Sciacca is famed for its coral jewelry. Silk tulle was plaited into a cape like a fisherman’s net, and a bodice was sequined like the capital of an Ionic column, its Empire skirts composed of a millefeuille of sliced chiffon strips, sewn to create the illusion of a column’s flutes that shimmered in the breeze as the model walked.