Below the exploding fireworks, brighter than the bauble of a full moon, a bride bobbed on the surf in a little boat.
The airwaves were filled with Fifties’ hit Mambo Italiano, played with gusto as guests dressed in Capri glamour danced on the rocky shore.
Welcome to Southern Italy! In an exquisite fashion event, Dolce & Gabbana captured the spirit of the Mediterranean in a flurry of full skirts, tiny waists, bold patterns, intricate jewellery, lush fur and two-piece swimsuits. (The sensual swimwear was often a seductive partner to the fur).
By the time that Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana were walking the sea shore ‘catwalk’, and then waiting for the models in their swishing skirts to climb back up the hill, the audience, primarily of couture clients, was drowning out the music with applause.
The intimacy of this exceptional event in a secret cove off the Italian Island, meant that this was the rarest of events: a paparazzi-free zone.
The show started with grand opera – a fitting backdrop to an important project for the design duo. They have been taking their private collections around Italy from Sicily, where Domenico has his roots, to Venice and now Capri.
“It’s about the beauty of Italy — We don’t really have Alta Moda here — we wanted to do something for our country,” said an emotional Stefano, as he talked through the collection in an improvised dressing room overlooking the choppy water.
There were details of raised floral embroidery, sandals with clusters of beaded flowers, a gilded crown that might have been a Neapolitan treasure and a dress with the naïve hand-painting of a map of the Amalfi coast.
The event was joyous and fun, with a casual glamour that Domenico claimed was last seen in the era of Liz Taylor, Princess Soraya of Iran, the Duchess of Windsor and Jackie Kennedy in the high tide of Capri chic.
With the Fifties’ song Volare as the inevitable accompaniment, the show seemed both extravagant — and intimate.
After a Paris haute couture season where few collections seemed dedicated to clients, there was a post-show scramble up to the rustic villa on the hillside, where immediate orders could be placed.
The originality of the collection was that it was multi seasonal, like its global clients, who were dressing for a Russian winter or barmy Asia.
“It was the most beautiful experience — the way that the models arrived in boats over the water as the sun was setting, the marvellous clothes, the mixture of embroidery and simple coats or dresses,” said Georgina Brandolini, who was with her two daughters Bianca and Coco.
The show started with a whirl of full, light, long skirts, sailor-striped or floral, with low cut bodices framing chests decorated with jewels. The first of exotic beach wear appeared as this season’s hot item: shorts. They were pretty and decorative, worn under a swish of a long coat.
Even more sensual was the beach babe in a plush fur coat with matching knee high boots.
Practical winter clothes included shapely tweed suits, dappled-surface lynx jackets and classic black dresses from a duo whose fantasy is rooted in body-conscious tailoring.
For high summer, there were genuine day clothes: a horizontally-striped top and full skirt, a rose pink lace dress or one with a flower print.
Dolce & Gabbana distilled their fashion codes to produce the essence of Italy. Gorgeous as the setting was, it would have been easy to fall into a pastiche of Italian style in the post-war years.
Instead, the designers made couture seem relevant to today – and all the more so because of the privacy. (Stefano and Domenico requested no Instagram images or Twitter comments during the show.)
Marie-Chantal of Greece spoke for three generations — herself, her daughter Olympia and her mother, Chantal Miller — when she said: “It was beautiful and magical — a winter show on the rocks of Capri, quite surreal, with fur, jewels and boating stripes. And then pasta!”