Stories / August 2019

Alta State of Consciousness

Dolce & Gabbana’s most recent Alta Moda extravaganza in Sicily was both a tribute to and a gift from the gods of empires past.

Image by Ryan Thompson

Being an haute couture client, or in other words, taking your place at the table of the top 1% of the top 1%, affords you certain unique privileges when it comes to shopping for clothes, chief among them the guarantee that nobody else will ever have the same item as you. But when you're a Dolce & Gabbana haute couture client, you're given the world, or at least - as evidenced by the Italian duo's most recent Alta Moda extravaganza in Sicily - the last 3000 years of it, wrapped up in a Grecian odyssey of lavishly handmade dresses, unbelievably ornate suiting and jewellery outrageous enough to have Elizabeth Taylor rising from the grave.

Last month, amid Greek gods, ancient manuscripts, a literary deity and ancient temples, Dolce & Gabbana once again brought its 4-day Alta Moda celebration to the designers' spiritual home of Sicily, where seven years ago they first pulled back the curtains of fashion's most exuberant theatre in the chic resort town of Taormina. This time, the opening night took stage in Palma di Montechiaro, chosen because it was the birthplace and seat of Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, author of The Leopard (Il Gattopardo), surely one of the most widely read pieces of Italian fiction ever written. The novel was published posthumously in 1958, less than a year after Lampedusa's death. The book is a meditation on the decline of the Sicilian aristocracy and the rise of a new order, played out in Italy's eventual reunification, otherwise known as the Risorgimento. On this day however, it was an entirely different elite basking in Sicily's glorious riches, as one choir serenaded the 400+ private clients from the steps of a monastery while another sung mellifluous notes from a terrazzo overlooking the piazza as hundreds of townsfolk lined the streets three and four deep, eager to get a picture of the guests arriving in limousines. For many of them, Stefano Gabbana and Domenico Dolce are seen as saints of a sort, having spent a great deal of time and capital renovating the town and bringing it back to former forgotten glories.

 

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Ryan Thompson

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