You've got to hand it to the street style photographers - and their umbrella holding muses. They were determined to keep the fashion dream alive outside the Dolce e Gabbana show, despite this very rainy day in Milan. Inside, Stefano and Domenico were intent on following up on their Disney Princess castle invitation, promising: 'Fashion, Fabulous, Fantasy.'
It was a relief to have us leave the shores of Sicily for the clouds in the skies - but we already knew that the duo would take fashion's current fixation with the joy of dress up and historical magpie culture to a literal place. The designers said they wanted to create a collection that 'turned Milan Fashion Week into a fairytale for children and adults to marvel at.' I hate to break it to the label but the fantasy is here in Milan - with or without them. In fact, it's over at Gucci, Prada and Marni. Furthermore, these other designers aren't wanting their customers to be princesses. They just want them to be women. There was no ‘rescue me’ Cinderella paraphernalia at these other houses either - or a gigantic scroll announcing that a prince had 'arrived on a white horse'. Modern women choose design houses that are beautiful but about a relevant releasing from the male gaze .
So, what was there to love about Dolce & Gabbana's collection? Amongst the thematic pieces, there were some more classically attractive pieces - all equally luxurious. A gold trimmed cream feathered coat with bejewelled collar and a caramel and black striped coat with oversized collar and gold spherical vintage buttons were both stand out. Print wise, there were silk dresses covered in Snow White style red apples, beautiful white tulips or tabby cats. Intarsia knit jumpers with toy soldiers delighted; they felt laid back but just as thematic. They were the kind of thing that if you loved them, you'd love them forever. Elsewhere it was actually the toy soldiers and the Prince Charmings that actually inspired the best pieces. Incredible drummer boy jackets were rock 'n' roll baroque - and one model looked toy box couture, in a gold baubled red buttoned dress. Raglan sleeved long houndstooth cocoon coats also looked sharp and authoritative - surprisingly, with or without 3D coloured silk roses.
Elsewhere, the appliqués were flat and Disney cartoonish. What is it with this - let's communicate a theme by appliquéing huge embroidery motifs onto beautiful clothes? Dolce & Gabbana have long done this - but it looks particularly naive when teamed with childlike motifs. We've seen this also this season - within the first section of the Alexander McQueen collection, where it was Alice in Wonderland pocket watches and butterflies. Here it's the entire storybook kitchen sink. I get that it's for Instagram, but it's killing real life design. Naive narratives can still mean grown up design thinking. Look at Rei Kawakubo, she often engages with naivety - but not in such a slap it on, sell it quick, way. Where appliqués did work here at Dolce & Gabbana were the tweeds coats. Nestled into the rich fibres, of more discerning and masculine pieces, the motifs looked more antiquated and loved - like they had been hand stitched by the fairy godmother, a long, long time ago.