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Five-figure blazers and crystal baseball bats: inside the fantastical world of Dolce & Gabbana Alta Sartoria men’s couture in New York
Conspiracy theorists with suspicions about the Illuminati are right about one thing: there is indeed an elite club that operates in the highest strata of society. But its members wear five-figure jacquard blazers, not cloaks. This is the world of Alta Moda, Alta Sartoria and Alta Gioielleria, the fashion spectaculars that Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana present to their most loyal, most zealous (and yes, richest) devotees.
You don’t need a secret handshake to get into these shows, just an appreciation of Italian exuberance and a bank balance to match. Dolce & Gabbana’s recent festivities in New York were the house’s most ambitious yet, a takeover of some of the city’s iconic landmarks.
Private members’ clubs? Who needs them? At Dolce & Gabbana Alta Gioielleria, the high jewellery presentation, Sarah Jessica Parker auctioned off a pair of spectacular chandelier earrings at the New York Public Library (coincidentally the spot where her Sex and the City character Carrie Bradshaw was jilted). A single client bought every lot, and the dress off Parker’s back to boot.
When it came to their wildly opulent men’s couture, the designers looked to New York’s captains of industry. “It’s for the new Rockefeller,” says Dolce, as he adjusts a jacket featuring the New York skyline picked out in sequins. The original Rockefeller might have keeled over in his top hat and tails at the crystal- dusted baseball tops – but this is Dolce & Gabbana’s vision of American dynamism and sports style fused with Italian craft and heritage.
“Every time we do one of these shows, we pay tribute to the location,” Gabbana explains. “This is all about the city of New York. We looked at the this incredible golden age, to 1980s streetwear, to Yankee costumes.” The duo played with more kitschy symbols of New York – souvenirs of the Statue of Liberty, the Big Apple icon and I heart NY T-shirts – and applied them to sporty jackets. The art-deco architecture of the city also infused the collection, with the sunbursts of the Chrysler Building embroidered on to a jacket, and the grid of the streets and avenues mirrored in the platinum and gold stripes across a tuxedo.
“The buildings in New York have such a strong, powerful presence that it felt right to incorporate that into our tailoring, which has always been very masculine,” says Gabbana. For all the collection’s opulence, Dolce & Gabbana are first and foremost master tailors, and their suiting is peerless; their male customers, who come from as far afield as Taipei and Texas, can opt for a sleek black suit just as easily as a sequinned fan-burst affair, the luxurious difference being that the thread in the pinstripe is made with precious metal.
One client from California who attends Alta Moda (the women’s equivalent of Alta Sartoria) for herself was also on the lookout for a good suit for her son.
That’s one lucky Generation Z teenager. Those glittering skyscrapers – the real ones – formed an impressive backdrop for the unveiling of the Alta Sartoria collection, which took place in the Rainbow Room at the top of Rockefeller Center, as a live band struck up and Liza Minnelli performed New York, New York.
“You think about the life that this room has seen, the high society that’s passed through its doors, and it’s incredible,” said Dolce after the show. “So many special moments within these walls.” Their evening was up there with the best of them.