Dolce & Gabbana marks Mother's Day early with baby-filled runway at Milan Fashion Week
It isn’t Mothering Sunday until May in Italy – at least, not officially.
But Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana care naught for that kind of stuff. The Sunday of every Milanese womenswear week is traditionally Dolce day, but this time they made it mother’s day, too. “Viva la Mamma” they called their show – in English, it translates oddly to “Hurray for Mum” – less Italian romance, more the post-war jolly hockey sticks Enid Blyton school of British children’s literature.
The helm of Dolce and Gabbana’s catwalk has been littered with human props for the past couple of seasons – this time, a group of D&G-clad mothers clutched their listless children. It looked a bit like a paediatrician’s waiting room.
Despite all the mamma stuff, I doubt Dolce and Gabbana had anything like ticking biological clocks on their mind when designing this collection. They just saw their mammas as another unmistakable symbol of Italy – 79% of the country’s young adults (18-29) still reside at home, the highest percentage in Europe.
“Viva la Mamma” is also the title of a song by Neopolitan crooner Edoardo Bennato. Dolce and Gabbana translated it into fourteen languages, and presented it as their press notes. Referencing postwar beauty queens and fifties-styles, it was almost a blueprint for their collection. These clothes, clutching at the waist and oomphing out the breasts and hips in a fecund hourglass shape, reminded me of that era, of the styles that Christian Dior turned the world on to, convincing them they looked new.
In actual fact, sociologists have analysed that, in part, it was reactionary, reinforcing women’s roles as mother (via that fertile figure emphasis) and ideologically banishing women from the working roles they adopted during the Second World War.
Again, I doubt Dolce and Gabbana were thinking philosophical thoughts about the duality of modern women’s roles. Leave that sort of thinking to Miuccia Prada. They just ran with the visual of Big Mamma Italiano, cleavage spilling out of her her midriff-hugging, wiggle-skirted dress (the model Bianca Balti, heavily pregnant, was the only exception to their waist-whittled rule). Were there any trousers? I didn’t spot a single pair.
The celebration of souped-up, sexualised Italian womanhood was, actually, business as usual in the standard Dolce mould. It almost could be a mould, turned out as it is in different materials each season. The suits and dresses were studded with glitzy, Schiaparelli-ish buttons this time, a couple of inside-out fur coats, like your mamma’s mamma’s tattered mink requisitioned.
A few evening dresses were decorated with the children’s scribbles – houses, families – that cropped up on the invite too. The latter were apparently the designers’ own, from their childhood. They reminded me of the embroideries across Angelina Jolie’s wedding dress.
The photographic prints, standardly splashed on shifts, were for this round of Madonna and child, sometimes graffitied with a beaded word, say “Amore,” like a defaced Tuscan altarpiece. Roses clambering across bodies recalled mother’s day bouquets, or maybe the floral-festooned “Mother” tattoos inked on many a bicep in slightly dodgy homage.
Perhaps that’s looking too deep. Maybe flowers were just their because they looked pretty, because women like them, because they will sell. This Dolce and Gabbana collection had plenty of energy, and lots and lots of distraction – models toting borrowed bambinos, negotiating the catwalk in those slender pencil skirts, juggling child on one hip and, perhaps, their their giant Dolce and Gabbana “Mamma” bags on the other.
Those are a standard style for the company, the lynchpin of their accessories offering. What’s betting there’s an added push come winter – just one more little push, to give birth to a healthy profit margin?
That’s not to denigrate either Signore Dolce, nor Gabbana. I’m sure their intentions with this collection were entirely heartfelt. Nevertheless, at the end of the day, they’re shrewd businessmen, not mamma’s boys. They may have translated Bennato’s song, but their customers in the forty-plus countries they sell to around the world expect to hear them talking Italian – as usual. That’s what this collection did.
Independent News Service