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Dolce&Gabbana transform haute couture event into a showcase of Italian lifestyle

by Giulia Crivelli

Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana introducing their event from Portofino, a town of 500 souls during the winter and one of Liguria’s most exclusive sports during the summer, dedicated to male and female haute couture stated: “Adding haute couture to our prêt-à-porter collection and our other small and large projects was a natural transition: we are at the seventh season for women, at the third for men.”

More than an event, Portofino was a journey though Italian lifestyle, craftsmanship, culture as well as food and wine: four days dedicated to guests coming from all over the world, people that are already haute couture clients or that aspire to become so. At Dolce and Gabbana's event there were about 150 women and an equivalent number of men. The two fashion designers said they were “a bit scared at the start because it is one thing to believe in oneself and one's capabilities, it is another to be certain of succeeding. Yet, despite doubts, everything is going very well: clients, overall sales, the people and the energy dedicated to the project have all increased.”

In 2012 the women haute couture clients were around 70, the number of tailors around forty”. Today the number of clients has almost doubled and the number of designers has reached nearly one hundred. “We have forty people currently working on the men collection where demand in rapidly growing, so much that the male clients have also outnumbered female ones. The headquarters of these haute couture tailors is Milan, but we have no problem going to where clients are, wherever they are, and this is especially true for men.”

“When it comes to men collections we already have a branch in London and we are currently looking for another one in New York. We are in search of welcoming spaces were our team will be able to establish a deep and sincere relationship with the client, just like it happened back in the days when people used to go to the tailor.”

The two designers also added that “we chose to organize the catwalks away from the fashion weeks dedicated to haute couture and to organize events that are really private. We have never been known for doing things like others. It's not to do things differently for the sake of it, but because it's the only way we know how to work and the only way we know how to be. And for this reason we will continue to act in this way.”

In 2012 Dolce&Gabbana closed the D&G “second line” in order to concentrate on the medium and high end of the market. The 2014-2015 period closed with a turnover that grew 9% to €1,050 bn, with an EBITDA of 14% and a net financial position worth €355 mn (compared to the previous €334 mn). Haute couture represents a niche for all businesses, but it's an incredible vehicle for communication strategy and a precious lab for ideas and craftsmanship that can lead to unexpected crossovers with prêt-à-porter.

“The excitement during the hours prior to a catwalk is always the same – Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana are keen to explain -. When it comes to haute couture there is the direct contact with the client and the pleasure of introducing him or her to Italian creativity and craftsmanship as well as the beauty of our country. All of it in a “slow” fashion, a pace that we are less and less used to in the era of Instagram and Twitter.”

For the “haute couture” Dolce&Gabbana chose the Brown castle from where not only the whole of Portofino is visible, but the entire gulf of Tigullio given its watchtower that dates back all the way to Roman times. There were nearly one hundred models on the catwalk for the highly selected guests. The two fashion designers did not comment, but there were a great number of people, especially among those coming from Asia, that appreciated the exclusiveness of the event compared to the Paris fashion shows that look more and more like prêt-à-porter fashion weeks filled as they are with photographers and bloggers.