Inside Dolce & Gabbana’s Alta Moda Show in Sardinia

For most designers, having a seven-time Grammy winner perform at their show is an unattainable dream. For Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, however, enlisting Christina Aguilera to give a concert, complete with billowing banners and a posse of male dancers in pink satin suits and diamanté chokers twirling feathered fans by the beach, isn’t even part of the main event. Aguilera belted out her instantly recognizable hits at Dolce & Gabbana’s welcome dinner for their Alta Moda extravaganza, which highlights creations made by hand with the utmost degree of Italian quality and know-how. The event, which spans several days every summer, has become a requisite stop for a few hundred of the designers’ closest friends and clients.

Christina Aguilera performing at Dolce & Gabbana’s Alta Moda show.

Photograph by Thomas Falcone Courtesy of Dolce & Gabbana

This time around, the festivities took place near Cagliari, in Sardinia, where many of the guests arrived on their private yachts. The evening after Aguilera’s performance, everyone converged for the high jewelry presentation, which included filigreed bracelets and necklaces adorned with extraordinary stones worthy of an 18th-century principessa—or a 21st-century tycoon-essa. The most jaw-dropping pieces, however, featured as their centerpieces, alongside candy-size precious and semi-precious stones, exquisitely detailed hearts and rosettes made out of bread. Yes, you read that right: the designers varnished and stabilized minute bread confections sculpted and baked using local techniques, and then incorporated them into mouthwatering baubles.

A rosette necklace accented with a sculpted bread heart.

Photograph by DSL Studio

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Next up was the main event—the women’s Alta Moda. The backdrop was the ruins of the ancient city of Nora, which dates back to the 8th century BC and straddles a rocky bay. The collection, shown exclusively with flat shoes, was centered around flowing black dresses, many intricately pleated, adorned with golden corsets, armor-like vests, massive necklaces, and imposing earrings that skimmed the clavicle. The models walked around an arrangement of geometric, mirror-like sculptures by the California artist Phillip K. Smith III, who is known for his large-scale installations; the reflections of the clothes at sunset created a mesmerizing kaleidoscopic effect. Other standouts included gorgeous white blouses with ballooned sleeves; sheer dresses in sorbet colors; and a slinky silver gown that resembled a long vial of mercury. The memorable finale was a coat of many, many colors, inspired by traditional Sardinian costumes, and made using artisanal methods originally intended for carpet-weaving. It was not surprising that the audience gave the designers a standing ovation.

Looks from the collection.

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Courtesy of Dolce & Gabbana
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Courtesy of Dolce & Gabbana
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Courtesy of Dolce & Gabbana
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Courtesy of Dolce & Gabbana

A look at the setup at the Alta Moda show, created by California artist Phillip K. Smith III.

Photograph by Melania Dalle Grave, Piercarlo Quecchia at DSL Studio

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“The techniques for this collection are very complicated, but the results are simple,” said Domenico Dolce before the show. “What we will remember most about Sardinia is the starkness of the physical environment, juxtaposed with the richness of the historical way of dressing on the island.” Everyone who was there is bound to remember it, too.

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