The Silk Road was a network of trading routes which snaked through China, Asia, Persia, North Africa and Europe from ancient times to the fifteenth century. Many of these routes terminated in the port of Sicily, leading to a melange of cross-cultural elements, resulting in buildings like the Chinese Palace in Palermo, a heady hotchpotch of Chinese, Indian, Persian and Turkish architectural influences.
One glimpse of Dolce & Gabbana’s flyer for their Spring/Summer 2016 menswear show gave a hint of what to expect- Chinoiserie, silk and the designers’ own take on traditional Chinese dress. What arrived was standard Dolce – the same recognisable shapes as every season, patterned within an inch of their commercial lives, thrown together with wild abandon and the kind of canvas espadrilles which would normally cost a few pence on a faraway beach, elevated to luxury status through the same excess of embroidery. Like Palermo’s ‘Casina Cinese’, an example of the Chinese Revival style of architecture, a gaudy, kitsch reproduction. Not without merits; unlike most shows the gap between the catwalk collection and the selling rail is distinctly narrower, and Zara’s copies will undoubtedly flood every branch of Wetherspoons.
What this collection isn’t, however, is a step forward for Domenico and Stefano’s brand, which seemed to stagnate with the death of D&G seasons back. With new blood infiltrating the cosy Milanese microcosm, namely Peter Dundas at Cavalli, Anthony Vaccarello at Versus Versace, even Gucci’s infuriating attempts to reposition under new creative director Alessandro Michele, it’s time for Dolce & Gabbana to leave Sicily and search for their relevance somewhere else.
Review written by Lee Clatworthy (@bombfashion) for KatieChutzpah.com