Vogue International Editor Suzy Menkes is the best-known fashion journalist in the world. After 25 years commenting on fashion for the International Herald Tribune (rebranded recently as The International New York Times), Suzy Menkes now writes exclusively for Vogue online, covering fashion worldwide.
Milan’s La Scala Sets the Stage for l’Alta Moda
31 Января 2015
Ballet star Roberto Bolle took a mighty leap in front of ethereal ballerinas and banks of roses, while music from Bizet’s /Carmen/ filled the air of Milan’s Teatro alla Scala.
But it was high fashion, not high opera, that brought together an audience dressed with jewels, as if for a night spent in the red plush velvet boxes of Milan’s famous eighteenth-century opera house.
Instead, it was Dolce & Gabbana’s Alta Moda that took over the building’s Toscanini foyer, with a collection to seduce clients who had flown in for the event.
No matter that the Italian banking unions were marching outside, as if lapping at the gates of Versailles.
Stefano Gabbana and Domenico Dolce pulled off a dazzling event by bending their fashion codes to the theatrical surroundings, creating a show that was graceful, light-handed and in tune with the music from /Carmen/, /The Nutcracker/ and /Swan Lake/.
The opening part was touching: three boy dancers, from child to man, walked the runway, representing Roberto Bolle’s journey from La Scala child prodigy to adult star.
Principal dancer Roberto Bolle performs
Roberto Bolle takes a bow
And the ending was equally emotional, as the models wore dresses decorated with La Scala’s signature red-and-parchment beige posters.
“That is where it started,” said Stefano, explaining how the duo first went to Alexander Pereira, the opera house’s artistic director, asking for permission to use the prints.
Then Domenico dared to ask for the opera house as a location — which led to this moment. Pereira, who opened the event, said that he had felt immediately that this could be a great collaboration, and afterwards said that he was pleased and honoured by the result.
It was intriguing to see the show attended by genuine clients, who so rarely appear.
Dressed at midday as if for a La Scala first night, with scarlet and gold cloaks competing with low-neckline black dresses choked with diamonds, their loudest applause was for Roberto Bolle.
But there were also waves of clapping as the show presented, in a balletic way, the house codes. Those included lace dressed up with a fur stole, the curvy dresses that the design duo do so well, and riffs on gilded decoration.
This was also visible on accessories, as delicate hose and hairbands had a sparkle and sheen.
The ballet brought a special, light-handed grace to the collection. Artist Anh Duong, sitting at lunch — where each table featured iced white cakes with a different ballet theme — spoke of her early days as a ballerina. That had introduced her to fashion before she started modelling.
The clients, most of whom had been to previous shows in Capri and Venice, regarded this as a “family” event — as did Domenico and Stefano. The night before, they had hosted a display of their jewellery, inspired by fruit and shown in individual cabins filled with vegetation and flowers.
The final day will show the first D&G men’s Alta Moda — no doubt to seduce the partners of all the glamorous women.
But was the beautiful La Scala dream the future of couture that the designers’ Parisian counterparts are trying so hard to find?
I asked Stefano for a reply: a dream of the future or the past brought to life?
“Domenico is the one who really loves the ballet; I prefer the opera,” he said. “For fashion, I love the future, but I prefer the present.”
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