October 1985 saw the debut of the Dolce & Gabbana brand with a fashion show during Milano Collezioni, New Talents.
In the following March the pair showed their first self-produced collection and fashion show titled ‘Real Women’. The partners' irreverent and overtly sexual designs caused an immediate sensation, and Dolce & Gabbana left the event as an established brand name.
A year later Dolce & Gabbana launched their first women’s knitwear collection.
In August 1987, the first Dolce & Gabbana shop and showroom was opened in Via Santa Cecilia, 7 Milan.
By 1987, the Dolce & Gabbana Womenswear collection had begun to be inspired by classic Italian film from the 1940s and 1950s; the collections they created were marked by romanticism and voluptuousness. Inspired by the Sicilian women of Dolce’s childhood, their full skirts, ruffled blouses and lace shawls met with immediate success. This theme was supported with diluted religious themes, rosary beads, little black dresses and headscarves.
April 1989 saw the first women's Dolce & Gabbana collection fashion show in Tokyo. In July of the same year the duo launched their first lingerie and beachwear collections.
Dolce & Gabbana's designs became steadily more sensual towards the end of the 1980s as the pair elaborated on their celebration of the female body. This ‘celebration’ continued to attract celebrities to the young designers’ creations. An important early customer was Madonna, who told WWD: “I like their designs because they make clothes for a womanly body. Most designers seem to be making clothes for girls with stick bodies who are flat-chested, but I always appreciate my own voluptuousness when I'm wearing their dresses”.
The start of a new decade heralded the first men’s Dolce & Gabbana collection. In April of the same year Dolce & Gabbana showed their men and women’s collections in New York for the first time.
A long-term supporter and champion, Madonna popularized their rhinestone-covered bodice in 1991.
In September 1991 the company licensed the first Dolce & Gabbana scarf collection. In June of that year the company was granted the Woolmark Award for most innovative men’s collection of the year.
The first Dolce & Gabbana fragrance was launched in October 1992 simply titled ‘Dolce & Gabbana Parfum’.
Dolce & Gabbana created more than 1,500 costumes for Madonna's Girlie Show in 1993.
March 1994 saw the debut of the new D&G line for women, Dolce & Gabbana’s diffusion collection. The men’s had previewed in January of the same year.
To mark the 10th anniversary of the company’s founding, the book ‘Ten Years of Dolce & Gabbana’ was published. It featured a collection of the most significant advertising and editorial images.
The first Dolce & Gabbana shop in the United States opened in March 1995 in the upscale shopping Mecca ‘the Galleria’ in Houston’s fashion district. This was followed by a surge in popularity and rapid expansion to locations round the world.
Achieving remarkable financial success the duo even crossed over into the music world, recording a techno single in 1996 intoning the line ‘D&G is love’.
By early 1997, Dolce & Gabbana reported a turnover of £400 million, prompting both designers to announce that they planned to retire by the age of 40. A promise they happily did not keep.
D&G staged its first fashion show in New York for SS97. In December of the same year, the company published the book ‘Dolce & Gabbana Wildness’; it contained a collection of the company’s most significant editorial images, based on the animal print motif.
Showcasing a trend for working with divas of the music world, Dolce & Gabbana exclusively designed the clothes and accessories for Whitney Houston’s 1999 World tour.
In February of the same year, the company launched the official Dolce & Gabbana website.
Dolce & Gabbana celebrated the launch of Madonna’s 2000 album ‘Music’ by creating her stage wardrobe and transforming music venues in London and New York into cyber ranches. Madonna appeared onstage at the MTV Europe Awards wearing the now infamous Dolce & Gabbana designed ‘Kylie Minogue Tee’.
Dolce & Gabbana designed clothes and accessories for Kylie Minogue’s 2002 European tour ‘Fever’.
SS02 exemplified Dolce & Gabbana’s brand of high-octane glamour and glitz. Showing heavy Sicilian peasant girl influences, the collection began with an array of tailored jackets and suits, corset inspired tops and dresses and lusty lace insert frocks worn with lithe shawls hastily draped round exposed shoulders and knotted over the bust. The über buoyant collection proceeded into an explosion of tropical coloured chiffon tops and dresses covered in floral prints. Accessories ranged from braided ribbon belts to metallic logo D&G belts, necklaces and earrings.
In October 2003 the company published ‘Hollywood’, a book that celebrated Hollywood and all the stars that have worn Dolce & Gabbana’s designs over the previous decades. The book featured iconic pictures of over 100 stars sporting the duo’s designs. Also in this Month Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana received the Designer of the Year Award at the GQ Men of the Year Awards in New York.
The AW03 collection featured a host of supermodels sporting an array of Dolce & Gabbana design staples such as the black corseted dress, manly tailored suits and curve enhancing designs interspersed with splashes of acid bright colours and a play on volume, with inflated parkas and wraps placed over signature pieces.
In 2004 an agreement was signed between Dolce & Gabbana and the A.C Milan football team to create the team’s uniforms, the first collection was presented in early 2005.
The book ‘Fashion Album’ was published in October 2006 and acted as a tribute to the hoard of famous photographers who had interpreted the Dolce & Gabbana designer style over the years and made some of the most iconic images of the age. Photographers included Steven Klein, Peter Lindbergh, Craig McDean, Steven Meisel, Helmut Newton, Paolo Roversi, Mario Sorrenti, Juergen Teller, Mario Testino, Michael Thompson, Inez van Lamsweerde & Vinoodh Matadin, and Ellen von Unwerth.
Dolce & Gabbana created three special outfits for Kylie Minogue for her ‘Showgirl Homecoming Tour’, starting in Sydney on November 11th 2006.
When Jessica Stam sashayed down the SS07 Dolce & Gabbana catwalk, the metal bustier dress she wore flashed around the world. One of the most iconic pieces created by the duo, the silver metallic pannier piece went on to feature heavily in editorials and played a starring role in the Lady Gaga video for her single ‘Paparazzi’.
For the Dolce & Gabbana twentieth anniversary SS06 collection, kitsch was in plentiful supply. The central theme was a post roll in the hay look of not so innocent red lace and gingham corsetry. The bust ruled the show with the trademark D&G engineered lingerie, and the temptress underwear-as-outerwear look reigned supreme. Where the collection was missing the trademark sharp sexy tailoring it made up with chutzpah and sheer celebration of two decades of decadence.
The following collection plainly stated the duo’s desire to conquer the red carpet. The collection revolved around a trademark play on masculine and feminine tailoring, heavily inspired by military uniforms. D&G’s much loved baby-doll dresses were made from candyfloss light layers with fondant sleeves or richly opulent velvet in jewel shades. The collection closed with an array of beautifully made empire line gowns layered with heavy metallic embellishment or light as air feathers, perfect for any budding starlet desiring to make an entrance.
The AW07 Dolce & Gabbana collection featured an array of glitzy candy wrapper dresses cinched with S&M metal corset belts. While the rest of fashion was leaning towards austerity, Dolce & Gabbana showed opulent glamour and sex in the extreme.
In July 2009 D&G signed a lucrative contract with Alexandra Burke, which saw her model their fashions in her music videos and promotions.
In February 2010 it was announced that Madonna would design a collection of Dolce & Gabbana sunglasses to be released in May of that year.
SS10 was a return to the mannish tailoring and Latino siren lingerie, set to appeal to a new generation of Dolce & Gabbana clients; a telling symptom of this was the induction of two bloggers to a normally star studded front row. Obvious bra straps were pared with Tango dancer inspired cocktail dresses and the obligatory Dolce & Gabbana black or white lace. Violently red leopard print appeared on flamenco inspired frocks or curve skimming dresses and the usual array of show ending red carpet stunners was replaced with barely there shorts and jacket combos and a bolero jacketed suit.
After celebrating the 25th anniversary of their business, SS11 saw the designers pave their way into their next quarter century. With this in mind they presented a collection of blank canvases almost entirely in virginal white. The idea behind the collection was a hope chest, packed with a bride’s new and handed down possessions before she starts her new life as a wife. Dolce & Gabbana’s take on this however was far from innocent with baby doll dresses, hourglass sheaths with visible underwear underneath and immaculately tailored suits. The show descended in typical opulence with the final pieces being drenched in crystals and sparkling embellishment.
As strong supporters of fashion bloggers, in early 2011 Dolce & Gabbana invited a selection including Susanna Lau and Bip Ling to style store windows using the SS11 collection.