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Dolce & Gabbana, the brainchild of Italian designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana is one of the most successful fashion houses in the world. The duo’s glamorous and sexy designs are influenced by the romantic atmosphere of Southern Italy as well as imagery from films by Italian directors Roberto Rossellini and Luchino Visconti. That most female of garments, the Dolce & Gabbana dress, has always been a lynch pin of their collections.
At the end of the 1980s the duo introduced their now iconic Dolce & Gabbana corset dress. Inspired by the traditional girdle, this dress with its figure hugging stretch fabric and sexy lingerie fixtures was a significant player in the ‘underwear meets outerwear’ look at the time. The corset dress not only highlighted the female form to full effect, it also helped reinvent the idea of the little black dress. In later collections the corset dress was paired with a white button down shirt, giving it a more androgynous feel.
Rising stars of the international fashion world, the duo dressed stars such as Isabella Rossellini, who famously stated, "they find their way out of any black dress, any buttoned-up blouse”. As the decade moved to a close Dolce & Gabbana’s designs became more sensual and they continued to celebrate womanhood. Madonna was a significant customer tellingW, "I like their designs because they make clothes for a womanly body... I always appreciate my own voluptuousness when I'm wearing their dresses."
By the early 1990s, Dolce & Gabbana had established themselves as style leaders . For SS92 they played on the fashion industry's obsession with designer names, using 20th century fashion vocabulary to cover their designs. Taking a very tongue in cheek approach, the duo brandished text including the words 'Dolce & Gabbana, Italy, Me and Baby' across a classic beige Dolce & Gabbana dress modeled by Cindy Crawford. Dolce & Gabbana continued to gain recognition for their ability to make women feel, in their own words "fantastically sexy".
For their AW00 collection the duo used a combination of the glamorous style they were so famous for with inspiration from the Middle East. Rich gold tapestry Dolce & Gabbana dresses and black, green and pink sheer dresses were teamed with sparkling Dolce & Gabbana tights and rhinestone berets, hoop Dolce & Gabbana earrings and appliquéd flowers. The look was very glitzy, almost garish but as usual the duo managed to stay just on the right side of ‘taste’.
For SS01 glamorous power dressing made an appearance and the collection featured body hugging Dolce & Gabbana jersey dresses with cut out detailing. By AW01 the duo were mixing the old with the new in a series of bohemian and sleek chic ensembles. Romantic and rural inspirations were reflected through a series of white, blue and black lace Dolce & Gabbana mini dresses with long sleeves, all revealing black underwear underneath projecting their trademark ‘naughty but nice’ style. In this collection was also a Dolce & Gabbana leopard print mini dress with butterfly sleeves.
For SS02 Dolce & Gabbana had turned to Victoria Beckham for inspiration. Among the oversized aviators, spiked Dolce & Gabbana heels and fine tailored Dolce & Gabbana suits were sexy corseted and lace bustier dresses. Colour appeared in vibrant flower print chiffon dresses and bright yellow sheer mini dress worn with multicolored Dolce & Gabbana belts.
SS03 showed many different sources of inspiration, amongst them punk and Sid Vicious. This could be clearly seen in the criss crossed S&M style lacing through the Dolce & Gabbana corset dresses which were tightly fitted and showed just a hint of skin. For AW03 the duo returned to doing what they knew best by recreating the signature looks that they had established in the 1980s. Among the collection was the Dolce & Gabbana black corset dress worn with a bright orange Dolce & Gabbana parka. This idea of teaming fluorescent colours in the form of an accessories and jackets with their classic pieces was described by Gabbana as a "techno romance". In the collection there was also a 1920s style fringed dress in emerald and a zebra print corset dress.
Dolce & Gabbana SS05 had a snake theme running through the collection, inspired by a famous photo of Nastassja Kinski naked, entwined with a python. One of the highlights of this season was a reptile printed corset dress, worn with a smattering of tribal inspired Dolce & Gabbana jewellery.
AW06’s high waisted dresses with their empire lines, antique golds and rich velvets saw the duo had paying homage to Napoleon’s famous paramour Josephine de Beauharnais.
The Dolce & Gabbana SS07 collection had strong S&M undertones. Metallic bustiers and black latex dresses with see through lace inserts were worn with eye masks. Show stoppers included a full metal corset dress complete with enlarged hip panels and tight lacing at the back; this also came in a deep purple leather version. These ensembles projected a mood of both strength and eroticism.
AW08 had a vintage 1950s vibe. The duo showed a variety of dresses with fitted waists, rounded shoulders and full skirts in both neutral and rich colours and in sheer and heavily lavish fabrics. A splatter painted mini dress, inspired by free hand painting provided an exciting and modern contrast.
For their AW09 collection the duo used Elsa Schiaparelli as their inspiration, embracing her signature use of surrealism along with dark fabrics, puffball arms, mirrors, spots, animal print and fur. There was also an appearance from their classic corset dresses and sheer dresses with sexy lingerie shining through.
SS10 saw a South America influence with the duo sticking to a predominantly beige, black and white colour pallet. This collection included long and mini Dolce & Gabbana dresses in black lace and tassels.
SS11 was a nearly all white collection. The duo described it as a collection of "the things new and handed down that a bride might pack before she sets off on the next chapter of her life". Along with the wedding night style lingerie; visible through sheer embroidered dresses, were delicate white mini dresses. Contrast came in the form of short black Dolce & Gabbana dresses and figure hugging long sleeved dresses in leopard print. This Dolce & Gabbana Sicilian Wedding Trousseau collection graced the covers of a huge 42 magazines and a sheer white lace dress from the collection was worn by Gisele Bunchen on the front cover of French Vogue.
AW11 saw a merging of masculine and feminine themes. Contrasting with the sharply tailored Dolce & Gabbana jackets and cropped Dolce & Gabbana trousers were floor length flowing dresses and signature lingerie inspired corset dresses. A bright yellow sheer star print Dolce & Gabbana gown stood out; feminine and vibrant it gave the impression that the model was elegantly gliding.
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