DOMENICO DOLCE AND STEFANO GABBANA are savvy; there’s no question about that. After almost 40 years in business together, the duo have proven themselves as both designers and entrepreneurs. Season after season, they’ve debuted assured collections and, in the process, established a kind of celebrity acclaim that’s seen the brand name immortalised in more rap songs than we care to count. My Humps, anyone?
But for the duo’s spring 2024 menswear collection, the question was not one of savviness, but of legacy.
At a press conference prior to the show in Milan, Dolce said it himself. He told the press: “Bombarded as we are by the constant noise of social media and by the turnover of trends, influencers of not-so-reliable standing, and a deluge of images, we keep asking ourselves, ‘Will people remember us? Will we leave a remarkable enough legacy, a style that stands the test of time?’”
While we’ll let the influencer comment slide, Dolce’s statement was one many designers are surely asking themselves right now. In a fashion landscape that’s more saturated than ever, it’s no longer about standing out, but enduring.
It’s imperative that brands evolve. But how to do so without losing the touchstones of branding — the tried and tested codes, staples and key aesthetic consumers love — is a difficult task to navigate. For Dolce & Gabbana, a brand synonymous with high glamour and Sicilian Savoir-faire, this season, a return to basics was the key.
And so Dolce and Gabbana honed in on the concept of ‘style’. It wasn’t so much about the clothes, but how they were styled, and the attitude with which they were worn. This isn’t to say they went completely minimalist, but the offering was definitely more pared back in comparison to the high-octane, flamboyant pieces we’ve seen hit their runways in recent years.
In an unexpected yet welcome twist, this season, the focus was on cut, construction, fit and precise tailoring.
Slender silhouettes that fell off the body in all the right places — like a button-up shirt worn off the shoulders and buckled in at the waist — held their own alongside cotton drill shirts accessorised with silk ties, oversized bomber jackets and leather vests. There was a feminine quality to this collection, too, by way of draped organza tank tops, lace, beaded necklaces and delicate florals, anchored in a palette of Succession-esque neutrals (and worn by some of fashion’s most famous faces, including Alton Mason and Kit Butler).
There’s been much chatter online recently as to what actually constitutes style. With the ever-dizzyingly rapid pace of the trend cycle, how can we know the difference between what we genuinely like, and what we’re told we should like? In terms of the answer, this Dolce & Gabbana collection feels like it’s getting at something worthwhile: look to your foundations; trust your identity.
Perhaps, that is the key to legacy, too. The creation not of clothing, but of a style that transcends. And this is why Dolce & Gabbana, a brand with one of fashion’s most recognisable aesthetics, will endure, cementing its legacy as one of the defining brands of its generation.
See more of Esquire Australia’s style coverage here.