Dolce & Gabbana: Made in Italy

Portrait of Dolce & Gabbana

Interview: Haris Stavridis // Portrait: Courtesy of Dolce & Gabbana

Do you have a favourite memory from your early years as designers?

Domenico Dolce: It was probably when we first saw our clothes in the magazines or when Madonna decided to come to our show and wear our dresses... I can't think of a specific moment, time has really flown!

Stefano Gabbana: When we first started, it was me, Domenico and a girl that helped us; she was a receptionist, model and anything else she could do for us. We had a very small office in Piazza 5 Giornate in Milano, and when I pass by I still get emotional. Now everything has changed, we have grown and we have created a solid brand in which we profoundly believe.

How would you describe your managerial style? Do you find it difficult to combine business with creativity?

SG: Yes and no. Yes, because fashion is about creativity, dreams and telling stories that you have in your mind that then take the form of clothes. No, because it can't only be about this. It would narrow it too much. Fashion is much more than creativity, it is the mirror of the society that generates it, it portrays its dreams, needs, and desires. It must have its feet rooted in reality or it won't go anywhere. This has always been true, but it's even truer when there is a crisis. You need to create great clothes in terms of quality and design, but also clothes that can be worn. It's very hard to balance these two opposite forces. But, at the end of the day, what's the point in making a beautiful dress if it only stays in the windows?

What is your brand's DNA? How has it evolved since you started and how do you think it will change in the future?

DD: The DNA of Dolce & Gabbana comes from Sicily, it has always been our starting point for everything that we do and it will always be.

SG: I agree with Domenico, it's such a marvellous land and so inspiring to us.

You were one of the first brands to invest in online content (with Swide), while your decision to move fashion bloggers to the front row a few years ago accelerated the creation of a new wave of influencers. How do you utilise technology on a personal level?

DD: I am not into technology and social media very much. I only recently received an iPhone as a gift, otherwise I would have never bought it myself. I am not even on social media.

SG: I use Twitter and Instagram, I really like sharing something that's personal, like pictures, with my followers. It's my way to stay close to them.

What kind of new opportunities do you see for your company thanks to technology? Are you afraid that the 'democratisation of fashion' might hurt the industry's image?

SG: Absolutely not. If you have a strong image, like we do, this will remain the same.

DD: On the contrary, technology can only help in this case.

How has your relationship changed over the years? What's easier and what's harder to do now?

SG: Our relationship has grown over the years, but what still remains is that we always talk with each other.

DD: We talk about everything, every single detail, and in the end we always come to a common decision.

What's the usual process when one has to convince the other about an idea or an important decision that has to be made?

DD: For us it's something very natural. We have been working together for thirty years on every project and every decision. This doesn't mean that we are together on a 24/7 basis, there are things on which Stefano is more involved and others which I am, but we take all final decisions together. I am precise and hard-headed, while Stefano is more impulsive and extroverted.

SG: Obviously it's not always easy, we are both strong characters and there are moments where arguing is not only normal, but necessary to go onwards. If you believe in something you have to be strong and support it even if the person in front of you does not agree.

Art seems to be an important part of your lives. Could you tell us about your collections and if you have any obsessions when it comes to favourite artists?

SG: We really love Fornasetti, we have a lot of pieces in our houses and in the office.

Italian history and tradition are two elements that are used frequently in your campaigns and fashion themes. What's your favourite period from your country's history and why?

DD: Italy, and in particular Sicily, is a land that has seen a lot of different conquerors that have influenced its culture.

SG: It is very difficult to pick one in particular. We always try to take the best period of it and study it. We are especially doing this for the men's collections, and study Greek, Norman, and now Spanish history.

I interviewed Delfina Delettrez Fendi a while ago and she said that 'Made in Italy' is "our history, our present and our future". Do you agree? What kind of challenges is 'Made in Italy' facing at the moment?

DD: Absolutely. Made in Italy is a value that we try to protect and develop in everything that we do.

SG: Of course. The challenges lie in keeping the quality at very high level and create designs that are very sought after.

You have said that every collection you do is like a movie, for which you write the script. How often are movies part of your inspiration when it comes to designing?

SG: Cinema is part of our life, our memories, our imagination and it is our constant source of inspiration. I would say especially through memories, as there are some images that remain engraved in your mind and without knowing, you always process them through today's eyes. In this way, your memories are always current. Our collections are like real movies. Before we start working on a collection and before making even one sketch, we ask ourselves first: 'what story do we want to tell this time?' And then we build a world, with its own characters, clothes, and story.

DD: Visconti, Fellini, Rossellini, De Sica, Pasolini, up to Tornatore and Salvatores, these are all movie directors who had their own vision of the world and they have given us wonderful images of Italy that we love. They have also become our source of inspiration. When we think of movies like "Il Gattopardo" we can't fail to be impressed by the elegance and strength of some of its scenes, which have accompanied us all these years. Of course, we also love foreign films and American masters like Scorsese and Tarantino.

Speaking of movies, do you aspire to direct a feature film sometime in the future, like Tom Ford did? Or perhaps participate in a few more films, like you did in "9" and "To Rome with Love"?

SG: Well at the moment that's not a priority for us, for sure.

DD: But never say never.

What does couture mean to you? What are the challenges in working in such a demanding aspect of fashion?

DD: Creating an Alta Moda collection has always been our dream. We have designed a thousand pret a porter dresses, we have done a lot of research, we have proven ourselves a lot of time, challenges have always excited us. We kept this project for ourselves for a while but then in 2012 we decided to present the first collection in Taormina, the land that has inspired us since forever. We have invited a few journalists and clients from all over the world : I remember that day like a dream; I will never forget the tears after the show, that has been the starting point of a marvellous adventure.

SG: After Taormina, we have presented the collection in Milano Venezia Milano and now in Capri. We don't want to show in a particular calendar or period, because we want to be free from any time and geographical scheme. We like to think of collections that are not bound in particular to a season because our women live in any part of the world, they travel and they live in a totally different way from normal people and also from us.

You have done countless interviews. Is there actually anything you have yet to be asked about?

SG: Oh God, I don't really know... I think they have asked us just about everything! [laughs]

    

This article has been translated and published in L'Officiel Hellas.

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