At 27, Dolce&Gabbana have achieved an impressive status, client base and cult following. The brand’s capacity to take the artistic traditions and aesthetic of Italy and make them their own is unsurpassable and highly romantic to fashion lovers. Their idiosyncratic designs, ironic take on classic dress and the brand’s emblematic items have all contributed in making Dolce&Gabbana a household name. For this instalment of our archive lead considerations of what makes up the Dolce&Gabbana DNA we concentrate on maybe one of the strongest statement the designers have made over the years: the corset.
If there was one element which summarises, characterises and ties the Dolce&Gabbana collections over the years, it would be feminine. The label’s fashion, whether tailoring or exquisite evening wear carries Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana’s own brand of femininity. In Stefano Gabbana’s own words Dolce&Gabbana “make a man like a man and a woman like a woman”. And perhaps this is the oldest and purest secret of the designer’s success. The linchpin of this statement lies in one particular item in my opinion: the corset.
The concept of underwear as outerwear, which has characterized many aspects of the Dolce&Gabbana collections, as well as their success, first came to light in their second season, the Spring Summer 1988 collection named Gattopardo. Both on the runway and advertisement campaign, Marpessa Hennink wore stretch satin culottes and an oversize corset bra. This emblematic image was to stay with the public, and influence the designers in their future collections.
The corset played a part in contrasting and emphasizing many of the other elements which make Dolce&Gabbana an iconic and experimental brand. In the following season’s collection, the theme of masculine tailoring- with typical Eighties oversize volumes, entered into the roster of Dolce&Gabbana classics. The corset played an important part in contrasting the masculine inspiration to the clothes, but emphasizing the femininity which they create.
The corset matured over the following collections, and in 1989 it was even transformed into a dress- but that’s a whole other story. The corset went from plain underwear as outerwear to statement garments.
In the early Nineties, Dolce&Gabbana took to revisiting iconic fashions from the past, the 1940s, 50s and 60s. Here the corsets took centre stage. Highly decorated with crystals or charms, the corsets went from supporting act to veritable protagonist. The era of the Pin Ups was celebrated in a curve enhancing, eye popping collection dominated by the corset: red satin, white satin, crystal encrusted, that simple item from our great grandmothers’ era graduated to the must have item of the Nineties.
Building upon the success of the previous season, the Spring Summer 1992 collection: la Dolce Vita projected a Fellinian image of Italy and Italian women all over the globe. Linda Evangelista, the face- and body- of the Dolce&Gabbana advertisement campaign for the season, lead an army of corset clad supermodels: Naomi, Cindy, Claudia, Carla, Helena, Monica stomped the runway and burned an image of beauty, sexiness, glamour, femininity that would forever be associated with Dolce&Gabbana and their corsets.
Throughout their collections, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana have come back to the corset, as one of their classics and one of our favourite items from the designer’s creative imagination. Whether pin striped, rouched, laced or embellished with precious hand applied crystals like in the SS12 collection: the corset is an integral gene in the brand’s DNA.
Initially it may have been a tool to seduce the audience, and to concretise many of the concepts on which Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana based their fashion, but soon the corset took on a life of its own and today it has become one of the most recognizable items coined by Dolce&Gabbana.
Styled by: Yuri Ahn
Written by: Valentina Zannoni