Dolce & Gabbana
|Type||Società a responsabilità limitata|
|Founders||Stefano Gabbana & Domenico Dolce|
|Products||Clothing, footwear, handbags, sunglasses, watches, jewellery, perfumery and cosmetics.|
|Parent||Dolce & Gabbana Luxembourg S.à.r.l.|
- 1 The Design House
- 2 Brands
- 3 Partnerships
- 4 Advertising Campaigns
- 5 Inspirations and style
- 6 Books by Dolce & Gabbana
- 7 Spaces and Exhibitions
- 8 Controversies
- 9 Legal issues
- 10 References
- 11 Further reading
- 12 External links
The Design House
Domenico Dolce (born on 13 August 1958 in Polizzi Generosa, Sicily) began his career in the fashion industry after dropping out of a three-year course in fashion design at Marangoni Institute, realizing that he knew everything the school had to teach. His dream was to work for Giorgio Armani so one day, he carried his book of sketches over to Armani’s headquarters with the intention of showing the designer his work. Inside the door, there was a long white carpet leading to the receptionist’s desk. Dolce wasn’t sure if he should walk on it with his shoes on. “I am such a cretino,” he says. “I know nothing.” He decided that he would look ridiculous appearing at the front desk without shoes, so he approached by sidling along the wall, where he could step without sullying the carpet. He handed the book to the receptionist and to this day, Dolce doesn't know if Armani ever saw the sketches.
Dolce found a job as an assistant to a designer named Giorgio Correggiari. One night at a club, he met a young man named Stefano Gabbana (born on 14 November 1962 in Milan, Italy). Dolce was impressed with Gabbana’s good looks and outgoing personality and Gabbana was happy to hear Dolce's advice on how to approach Correggiari for a job. Correggiari ended up hiring Gabbana to work on sportswear, and Dolce taught him how to sketch and the basics of tailoring, and in the process they became a couple.
Soon after his hiring, Gabbana was conscribed to 18 months of mandatory military service, but in 1983, after his return in 1982, they had parted ways with Correggiari and were living together in a one-room loft where they often practiced sketching. Dolce: “We always filed two different invoices for the freelance work we did, even when we were working for the same client.” Gabbana: “Our accountant said, ‘Why not just do one invoice for both of you? Put Dolce and Gabbana at the top.’ ” So the brand was born, the brainchild of a Milanese bookkeeper. 
The first collection from the design duo was shown in October 1985 alongside five other up-and-coming Italian labels apart of Milan Fashion Week. The two did not have enough money to hire models or provide accesories for them, so they sought help from their friends. The models (their friends) simply wore their personal items to complement the clothing. They used a bed sheet that Dolce had brought from home as their stage curtain.
The pair labeled their first collection Real Women, due in part to the use of amateur local women on the runway. Their sales from their first collection were disappointing enough for Gabbana to cancel the fabric order they'd put in to create their second collection. However Dolce's family offered to help pay for their costs as the two visited them in Sicily over Christmas, and the fabric company did not receive the cancellation notice in time—so the fabric was ready for them back in Milan upon their return. They produced their next collection in 1986 and opened their first store that same year. Michael Gross wrote of their third collection in a 1992 interview, "They were a secret known only to a handful of Italian fashion editors. Their few models changed behind a rickety screen. They called their collection of T-shirt-cotton and elastic-silk pieces Transformation”. Their clothing in this collection came with instructions on the seven different ways a piece could be worn in an outfit, as the wearer could use Velcro and snaps to alter the clothing’s form.
Their fourth collection was the first to make a significant impact on the Italian fashion market. In this collection Dolce drew upon his Sicilian roots. The advertising campaign collection was shot by photographer Fernando Scianna on location in Sicily, in black and white pictures inspired by the Italian cinema of the 1940s. They continued the use of Italian cinema as inspiration in their fifth collection, drawing on the work of filmmaker Luchino Visconti and his film The Leopard.
One of the pieces from their fourth collection was labeled "The Sicilian Dress" by the fashion press, and was named by author Hal Rubenstein as one of the 100 most important dresses ever designed. It is considered to be the most representative piece of this era for the brand. Rubenstein described the piece in 2012 by writing, “The Sicilian dress is the essence of Dolce & Gabbana, the brand’s sartorial touchstone. The dress takes its cue from a slip—but it’s a slip that’s adorned Anna Magnani, and it’s a silhouette that has graced Anita Ekberg, Sophia Loren, [and so forth]. The straps fit tight to the body just as bra straps would; the neckline runs straight across but gets waylaid at least twice, once on each side to caress each breast and in the middle to meet an uplifting tuck that’s giving a gentle push up. The slip doesn’t just slide down, but comes in at the waist to hold the figure firmly but not too tightly and then widens to emphasize the hips, only to fall with a slight taper at the knees to guarantee that the hips will sway when the wearer walks.”
The 1980s and 1990s
In 1987, the two launched a separate knitwear line, and in 1989 they started designing a lingerie line and a beachwear line. Two years later they launched their leotard line, and in 1989 they began designing underwear and swimming costumes. Dolce & Gabbana started to export their products to Japan and other countries, such as the U.S., where they founded their own showroom in 1990. In 1992, the same year they presented their men’s collection, they also launched their first perfume Dolce & Gabbana. They won an Oscar for best male perfume in 1996. Towards the end of the 1990s their sales were around 500 million dollars and in 2003 alone their revenue reached 633.2 million dollars. Then, in 1990, they launched their first men's collection. That year they also moved the design house into its first official offices and began to design gowns and other more expensive pieces in addition to their original clothing. Their 1990 Spring/Summer women's collection referenced the mythological painting of Raphael, and the duo began to build a reputation for crystal-encrusted clothing. The 1991 Fall/Winter women's collection was also adorned by trinkets, including filigree medals and embellished corsets. The 1992 Fall/Winter women's collection was then inspired by the silver screen of the 1950s, though the collection still included crystal embellished body suits.
By 1991, their men's collection was awarded the Woolmark Award for the most innovative men's collection of the year. What is considered to be their first foray into international recognition came when Madonna wore a corset made of gemstones and accompanying jacket from Dolce & Gabbana to the premiere of Truth or Dare: In Bed with Madonna at the 1990 Cannes Film Festival. The duo then partnered with Madonna in 1993 to design over 1500 costumes for the artist's Girlie Show international tour in support of her 1992 album Erotica. In an interview about the costumes, Madonna stated that, “Their clothes are sexy with a sense of humor—like me.” In 1994, the house’s trademark double-breasted jacket was named “La Turlington” after model Christy Turlington. That same year the company launched its second main line—D&G, a line aimed at younger individuals. In 1996 the D&G runway show only appeared only on the Internet and not the runway, in an experimental move towards new media. That year Dolce & Gabbana also designed the costumes for the film Romeo + Juliet.
In terms of the film industry, both Dolce & Gabbana appeared in the 1995 film L’Uomo delle Stelle (The Starmaker) by director Giuseppe Tornatore, playing minor roles as extras. They appeared in more significant cameo roles in Rob Marshall’s film-adaptation Nine. As stylists, they also worked on the music video Girl Panic! by Duran Duran.
In terms of their market expansion in the 1990s, in 1989 Dolce & Gabbana signed an agreement with the Kashiyama group to open their first boutique in Japan. They released their first fragrance for women in 1992, called "Dolce & Gabbana Pour Femme", which was awarded the Perfume Academy's 1993 award for best feminine fragrance of the year. Their first male fragrance, "Dolce & Gabbana pour Homme", was the recipient of the best masculine fragrance of the year award from the same Academy in 1995. That year Dolce & Gabbana's collections caused a controversy with the British and Italian press, when they selected the American gangster motif as inspiration for their work. Dolce & Gabbana transposed this Fall/Winter 1995 inspiration onto women's wear, which critics stated brought an erotic edge to the clothing. The duo had used the motif before as well. In 1992 photographer Steven Meisel shot an ad campaign for the house in which the models posed in “gangster chic”. This included wide-lapelled 1930s style coats and black leather caps.
Author Nirupama Pundir stated that, “Dolce & Gabbana, with their superfeminine and fantastical style, broke away from the serious and sober-minded fashions that dominated during much of the Nineties.”
They won the Woolmark award in 1991, and the prize “most feminine flavor of the year” in 1993.
Dolce & Gabbana continued to work with Madonna, designing the costumes for her Drowned World Tour in 2001, in support of her 2000 album Music. They also designed costumes for the international tours of Missy Elliot, Beyoncé, and Mary J. Blige. In 1999, the duo appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show in support of singer Whitney Houston, who used the show to debut the Dolce & Gabbana designed costumes for her My Love is Your Love tour, considered by fashion and music critics to be unusually risqué. The duo continued to design costumes for musical artists through the 2000s, including the costumes for Kylie Minogue's Showgirl Homecoming tour. Madonna also participated in Dolce & Gabbana's 2010 advertising campaigns.
In the 2000s, Dolce & Gabbana took a great deal of inspiration from the sport of football as well. In 2003 the men's line took its main inspiration from the world's great football stars. Other forms of art were taking inspiration from Dolce & Gabbana too. In 2003 dance music artist Frankie Knuckles said that the fashion house was a “great barometer” for trends in both fashion and music. As for their impact on the design world, in 2002 the corsets that were a key part of early Dolce & Gabbana designs were being re-discovered by many of Europe's main designers as a coming trend. In recent years Dolce & Gabbana has begun holding private viewings of their new collections for buyers, in order to sell their collections before they become public and in order to pre-empt the copying of their designs by fast fashion companies.
By 2005 their turnover was €597 million.
In 2012, D&G was merged with Dolce & Gabbana in order to strengthen the main line. The final independent D&G collection occurred in the Spring/Summer 2012 collection shown in September 2011. The New Yorker published in 2005 that, “Dolce and Gabbana are becoming to the two-thousands what Prada was to the nineteen-nineties and Armani was to the nineteen-eighties—gli stilisti whose sensibility defines the decade.” As for personal awards, in both 1996 and 1997 Dolce & Gabbana were named by FHM as the designers of the year. In 2003 GQ Magazine named Dolce & Gabbana among their "Men of the Year". The following year readers of British Elle voted Dolce & Gabbana the best international designers at the 2004 Elle Style Awards. Dolce & Gabbana celebrated the 20th anniversary of their brand on June 19, 2010 at the Piazza della la Scala and Palazzo Marino in Milan. A public exhibition was also held the following day that included a room in which several dozen televisions were piled haphazardly upon each other, each showing a different one of the design house’s previous collections going back over its twenty year history.
Dolce & Gabbana had two central lines (D&G and Dolce & Gabbana) until 2012, when the lines merged under the label Dolce & Gabbana.
Dolce&Gabbana (spelled without spaces, unlike the name of the company) specializes in luxury items influenced more by designers and is more formal and 'timeless', responding to long-term trends as well as seasonal changes. It also sells sunglasses and corrective eyewear, purses, and watches. In April 2009 it launched its make-up range, unveiled at Selfridges, London by Scarlett Johansson. In February 2010, it was announced that American singer Madonna would design a collection of sunglasses titled MDG, set to be released in May of that year. It also has a set of fragrances for men and women. An example is 'The One' which is a perfume by Dolce&Gabbana.
D & G
D & G was the younger, more flamboyant diffusion line of the brand. Unlike Dolce&Gabbana, D&G sold watches as well as clothing: watches were manufactured by Naloni and Binda Group. In 2011, Dolce & Gabbana decided to discontinue the D & G-line in order to put "more strength and energy" into their other collections.
Dolce & Gabbana created a bridal collection, but only between 1992 and 1998. The Dolce & Gabbana Home Collection—started in 1994—was also discontinued in 1999, with the exception of unique pieces being created for D&G premises. The first women's beachwear collection was developed in 1989, followed by the first men's beachwear collection in 1992. D&G launched an eyewear line in 1998 and a timepieces line in 2000. That same year D&G launched both a men's and women's underwear collection, separate from their Dolce & Gabbana lingerie collection. In 2001 they launched the D&G Junior line for children. In 2006 the duo launched the Anamalier line of leopard print accessories for women, and in 2007 they launched a line of crocodile travel cases for men. Other bags produced by the house include the Miss Sicily tote bag, and the “Dolce” bag, offered in straw and leather.
In 2009 they launched their first line of color cosmetics, with Scarlett Johansson as the face of the advertising campaign. Dolce & Gabbana launched its first line of fine jewellery in late 2011 with an 80-piece line including bejewelled rosaries, charm bracelets, and necklaces. Dolce & Gabbana have received several awards for their fragrances, as was described in the above sections. There current fragrances include: "The One", "Sport", "Light Blue", "Classic", "Sicily", "The One Rose", and the original scents "Pour Homme" and "Parfum".
Dolce & Gabbana made the "DG" logo an iconic and instantly recognizable symbol, but they were never able to get the matching internet address DG.com. In fact, DG.com is one of the oldest Internet domains and was already registered in 1986 by the computer company Data General, now defunct. After that company closed in 1999, the url went to EMC before Dollar General purchased it in 2010 after a bidding war with Dolce & Gabbana.
Dolce & Gabbana has designed the on-field attire for AC Milan since 2004. In addition to having their on-field uniforms designed by Dolce & Gabbana, the players of AC Milan also dress in team-issued Dolce & Gabbana attire when at official functions off the field. The duo also designed the off-field suits for the Italian National Football Team. In 2010 Dolce & Gabbana signed a three year deal with the Chelsea Football Club to design and provide the club’s on- and off-field uniforms and attire. The deal included the creation of clothing for female staff members in addition to male staff members and the players themselves. The off-field outfits designed for the club included a dark blue suit featuring the lion symbol on the breast pocket. The designers also re-designed the club’s director’s lounge and main office reception area. Dolce & Gabbana are also the named sponsors of the Milano Thunder Italian Boxing Team.
In 2006 Dolce & Gabbana partnered with Motorola to produce the Motorola V3i Dolce & Gabbana cellular phone. Then in 2009, Dolce & Gabbana partnered with Sony Ericsson to produce a version of its Jalou cellular phone line with 24-karat gold details and the logo of the design house emblazoned on the co-designed piece of technology. Dolce & Gabbana also partnered with Citroën to co-design a version of their C3 Pluriel vehicle. In 2010 Dolce & Gabbana partnered with Martini to produce a “gold edition” of its vermouth. In 2010 the design house then teamed with singer Madonna to release a co-designed line of sunglasses called MDG.
The commercial created for the first feminine fragrance of Dolce & Gabbana ran for several years in Italy, created by filmmaker Giuseppe Tornatore, scored by Ennio Morricone, and starring actress Monica Bellucci. The 30-second surrealist commercial begins with a man slapping an octopus against the stone ridges of a tide pool. He stands and looks around himself at different women participating in their daily lives. One woman (Bellucci) is seen changing into a 50s-style bathing suit behind a white sheet being held up by two other women. After she changes, she tosses her bra atop a prickly pear cactus and walks towards the ocean. Later she is seen lying atop a well-made bed, and the man who saw her is standing outside her window, holding her bra up to his nose. The film closes with the image of the Dolce & Gabbana fragrance bottles against a black backdrop. In 2003 the Dolce & Gabbana perfume Sicily was advertised in another surrealist commercial about a Sicilian funeral, which was also directed by Giuseppe Tornatore.
Gisele Bundchen starred in the 2006 commercial for the fragrance "The One", featuring Bundchen in front of a vanity mirror being made up, with flashes of a mob of cameramen interspersed; she then puts on a golden dress, shoes, and has a pair of D&G sunglasses put on her face. Photographers and filmmakers that have worked with Dolce & Gabbana on advertising campaigns have included Giampaolo Barbieri, Michel Comte, Fabrizio Ferri, Steven Klein, Steven Meisel, Mert + Marcus, Jean Baptiste Mondino, Ferdinando Scianna, Giampaolo Sgura, Mario Sorrenti, Sølve Sundsbø, Mario Testino, Giuseppe Tornatore, and Mariano Vivanco. Dolce & Gabbana have won two Leadawards for their campaigns, Germany's leading advertising awards. In 2004 they won for their Fall/Winter 2003/04 campaign and in 2006 they won for their Fall/Winter 2005/06 campaign.
Inspirations and style
Originally inspired by eclectic, thrift shop Bohemia, Dolce & Gabbana's deeply colored, animal prints have been described as "haute hippy dom" taking inspiration in particular from Italy's prestigious film history. "When we design it's like a movie (Domenico)," says Domenico Dolce. "We think of a story and we design the clothes to go with it (Domenico)." They claim to be more concerned about creating the best, most flattering clothes than sparking trends, once admitting that they wouldn't mind if their only contribution to fashion history was a black bra (Dolce & Gabbana 2007).
D & G trademarks include underwear-as-outerwear (such as corsets and bra fastenings), gangster boss pinstripe suits, and extravagantly printed coats. Meanwhile their feminine collections are always backed by powerful ad campaigns, like the black-and-white ads, featuring model Marpessa photographed by Ferdinando Scianna in 1987 (Dolce & Gabbana). "They find their way out of any black dress, any buttoned-up blouse (Domenico)," says Rossellini. "The first piece of theirs I wore was a white shirt, very chaste, but cut to make my breasts look as if they were bursting out of it (Domenico)."
Once dubbed the "Gilbert and George of Italian fashion", Dolce & Gabbana gave their fashion interests a musical turn in 1996, by recording their own single, in which they intoned the words "D&G is love" over a techno beat (Dolce & Gabbana 2011). Newer to the design game than other heavyweight Italian fashion houses such as Versace and Armani, the pair acknowledge that luck has played its part in their phenomenal success. By 1997, their company reported a turnover of 400 million, prompting both designers to announce that they planned to retire by the age of 40 – a promise they did not keep (Domenico).
Books by Dolce & Gabbana
In addition to designing clothing, Dolce & Gabbana have co-authored nearly two dozen books featuring photographic narratives as well as collections of their own work. The proceeds of many of these books go to charities including the Children’s Action Network and the Butterfly Onlus “école sans frontières” Foundation. The following is a bibliography of their literary works:
- 10 Anni Dolce & Gabbana (A collection of the most important advertising and editorial images of the design house's first decade)
- Hollywood (Features over 100 photographs of the movie stars from the post-1985 era)
- Calcio (Photographs of 44 soccer players, 3 teams, and 2 coaches)
- A.C. Milan
- Music (Features over 150 of globally recognized musicians)
- 20 Years Dolce & Gabbana (A chronological photographic history of each of the house’s collections, using over 1000 photos)
- 2006 Italia (A book celebrating the 2006 World Cup title won by Italy)
- Fashion Album (Contains over 400 images paying homage to the great fashion photographers of Dolce & Gabbana collections)
- Secret Ceremony
- Family (A book that focuses on the family as the center of a man’s life)
- The Good Shepherd (A book that illustrates the day of a common shephard, wearing Dolce & Gabbana clothing)
- Milano Beach Soccer
- Diamonds & Pearls
- 20 Years of Dolce & Gabbana for Men
- Icons 1990-2010
- Fashion Shows 1990 – 2010
- Nazionale Italiana: South Africa 2010 (A series of images starring the Italian National Football Team during the training sessions preceding the 2010 FIFA World Cup)
- Milan Fashion Soccer Players Portraits
- David Gandy (A 280-page photographic coffee table book of images chronicling collaborations with British model David Gandy from 2006 to 2011)
Spaces and Exhibitions
Dolce & Gabbana opened the La sede di via San Damiano atelier in September 1995. They opened the seven floor combined boutique and corporate space Lo showroom di via Goldoni in 2002, moving for its prior main showroom at the Piazza Umanitaria. In July 2006 Dolce & Gabbana then opened the 5,000 square foot show floor Lo showroom di via Broggi in Milan. The design house also bought the Il Metropol theatre in Milan, a historic cinema built in the 1940s. It was renovated and reopened in September 2005. In 2006 Dolce & Gabbana opened IL GOLD, an establishment with café, bar, bistro, and restaurant areas. This followed the opening of a co-sponsored drinking establishment the duo founded at their Milanese men's showroom called the Martini Bar in 2003. An additional Martini Bar was later opened at their Shanghai showroom in 2006. In 2009 Dolce & Gabbana had 93 boutiques and 11 factory outlets, and was sold in over 80 countries. In all they have 251 mono-brand stores.
In the United States standalone boutiques can be found in Bal Harbour, Beverly Hills, Chicago, Las Vegas, and New York City. Dolce & Gabbana also operates boutiques in other cities in select department stores: Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, and Bergdorf Goodman.
In addition to developing runway shows and advertising campaigns for its collections, Dolce & Gabbana use their spaces to host photography and other art exhibitions. Soon after the opening of the Il Metropol, they hosted two exhibitions by artist Ron Arad in the lobby space: Blo-Glo between April 2006 and April 2007, and Bodyguards in late April 2007. They held photography exhibitions featuring the work of Enzo Sellerio in 2007 and Herbert List in 2008. In 2011 Dolce & Gabbana held an open house and architectural exhibition with Studio Piuarch showcasing the studio's various architectural designs and projects since 1996. Studio Piuarch built the Dolce & Gabbana headquarters in 2006, which was where the exhibition and open house was held.
Dolce & Gabbana also uses its spaces for book launches and photographic exhibitions of its own clothing, such as the book launch of their book David Gandy in 2011. They also use other spaces as well, such as the Palazzo della Ragione in Milan, where in May 2009 they staged a photographic exhibition of over 100 images selected from the history of US Vogue over its 90 year history. The exhibition was called Extreme Beauty in Vogue.
Dolce & Gabbana was publicly criticized by Britain's advertising watchdog Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in January 2007, for an advertising campaign showing models brandishing knives.
Following complaints from consumers' groups in February 2007, Dolce & Gabbana pulled an advertisement in Spain that showed a man holding a woman to the ground by her wrists while a group of men look on. Spain's Labour and Social Affairs Ministry branded the campaign as illegal and humiliating to women, saying the woman's body position had no relation to the products Dolce & Gabbana was trying to sell. Italian publications followed suit, banning the ad. This advertisement was called "a glorification of gang rape" and declared "one of the most controversial advertisements in fashion history," by Debonair Magazine.
Hong Kong photo ban controversy
On 5 January 2012, Apple Daily reported that Hong Kong citizens had been prevented from taking pictures of Dolce & Gabbana window displays in both their Hong Kong stores, stirring anti-Mainland Chinese sentiment. In particular staff and security personnel at their flagship store on Canton Road asserted the pavement area outside was private property where photography was forbidden. The actions sparked protests spanning several days and gained international news coverage on 8 January. Local news reports speculated that the Dolce & Gabbana photo ban may have been imposed at the request of some wealthy Chinese government officials who were shopping and who feared photographs of them in the store might circulate and fuel corruption allegations and investigations into the source of their wealth.
In May 2009, the Italian government charged Dolce & Gabbana with tax evasion for having moved assets of about 249 million euro to Luxembourg in the 2004–2006 period. On June 19, 2013, they were found guilty of failing to declare 1 billion euros ($1.3 billion) of income to authorities after moving their brand to Gado, a Luxembourg-based holding company. The court sentenced them both to one year and eight months in jail. Dolce and Gabbana were quick to file a 90-page appeal and thus did not face any jail time. On April 30, 2014, a three judge panel overruled the appeal and decided to uphold the initial sentence made last year. However, since they were sentenced to only one year and six months, which is under the two year minimum, both of them will not serve actual imprisonment in jail.
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