The house-icon corseted black dress was thus variously embroidered, appliquéd, and hand-painted with blossoming flowers. Black veils abounded, and—mixing metaphors—even the brides wore nun-like habits. A wedding dress and matching headpiece were decorated in baroque scrolls of three-dimensional padded embroideries, a new development, Dolce said. Quilted cherubs as white as clouds perched on several the collection’s strong-shouldered jackets, as if they’d alighted from the Duomo for a back-and-forth down the runway.
That touch of camp won’t go unappreciated by the Alta Moda devotees. Nor would the jacket that was as gilded as a Fabergé egg (we spied it walking on a client 24 hours later). Indeed, after the show, two clients vied for a sky-blue miniskirt suit abundantly embroidered in black and gold. Ravishing in a subtler way were the strapless dresses and robes made from black, light-brown, or white lace delicately finished with white needlepoint. The finale look, a red taffeta opera cape with one of those extravagant 12-foot trains, produced spontaneous applause.
Alta Sartoria, which they showed on Sunday evening in the picturesque seaside town of Marzamemi, was about pushing menswear into a more fluid future. Riffing on a local legend about a princess and sunken treasure, they turned out a collection that morphed armor—the stuff of masculine brawn and aggression—into jeweled corsets, bibs, and harnesses. Three-piece suits came in jewel-tone silk charmeuse, and flowing, sheer pleated pants and skirts shared space with more traditional tailoring, but probably the most novel shapes were the New Romantic volumes of blouses and baggy pants stuffed into knee-high brocade boots. There was just as much rhinestone sparkle and metallic lamé as in the Alta Moda. (At the Sartoria press conference they pointed out that women are buying the men’s made-to-measure pieces alongside guys.)
The streets of Marzamemi were lined with locals angling for a celebrity sighting. Those who got in close enough caught a glimpse of Sharon Stone and Domenico Dolce busting moves together on stage, and Helen Mirren serving up gelato to a queue of well-heeled guests. It was quite a scene, and there was still the closing night party on Monday to come. “We want to do something special,” Dolce said. “The special is impossible.” But only at first, is what he meant. Making the impossible possible, down to the last embroidered pearl and crystal, is how you build a 750-person client list.