Milan Fashion Week: Nothin' but net for Dolce & Gabbana
Dolce & Gabbana's spring and summer collection drew inspiration from nets -- the kind found on fishing trawlers and soccer fields and that other Net, with its sticky, narcissistic web of social media that amplifies while it also distorts.
The first manifested itself in the fabrication, with micro-perforated belts and leather jackets with holes as fine as a kitchen colander, loose, loopy sweaters and shirts with holes big enough to poke three fingers through.
Some laser-cut leather pieces, particularly jackets and shoes, were as sharp as graph paper. Others seemed woven into a loose grid in a simple over-under fashion out of cord the diameter of clothesline. Still other pieces -- accessories including belts and bags -- were characterized by a tighter, lattice-like weave.
Transparent, mesh-like netting was used as the outer layer of long-sleeve shirts and trousers, lined with washed cotton poplin T-shirts and shorts, and different styles of netting were paired together on the same model -- and occasionally in the same mixed-fabrication garment.
In the best pieces, the fabric and net-like construction brought out the best in the design -- allowing leather bomber jackets to hang as lightly on the body as diaphanous silk, for example.
In a few manifestations, the idea was taken too far -- most memorably in a gray sweater with licorice-stick-sized loose ends standing at attention on the shoulders and yoke (like Pinhead from "Hellraiser" might wear).
Which is a lot like that other Net the designers had on their minds. Even if you aren't aware that Stefano Gabbana has enthusiastically embraced Twitter and uses it as a way of getting instant feedback for his ideas, if you had a seat at the show you would have found a card explaining that a WiFi connection had been set up so that attendees could post short messages reacting to the show -- in essence, tweet from their seats -- with the messages scrolling the length of the runway on two huge screens above the crowd.
At first, the scroll -- which also included Twitter messages with the requisite hash tag and posts to the label's Facebook page (the pre-show and show were also streamed live from the company's website) -- was full of well wishes and exclamations of anticipation. "Daniel Lindstrom Great to be back in Milan," read one; "Mr. Porter is looking forward to seeing the collection from Mr. Dolce & Mr. Gabbana," posted someone from that luxury menswear e-commerce site.
By the time the house lights came down, and the show was about to start, a single message (the actual message escapes me now) from "Mr. Fut-il" had monopolized the marquee, either a glitch in the system or childish "look at me" focus grab from one of the (presumably) adult attendees.
Either way, it makes the point all too well about the power -- and pitfalls -- of the kind of instantaneous mass communication the Net has wrought.
After that, I honestly couldn't tell you what came across those screens. I was busy looking at the collection of clothing 3 feet in front of my face.
But I'm pretty sure Dolce & Gabbana reeled in a trawler full of feedback with the net they cast -- insight they probably think is pure and unfiltered, not tainted or diluted by critics, bloggers or haters.
Or is it? Ah, what a tangled web indeed.
-- Adam Tschorn, reporting from Milan
Photos: Looks from the Dolce & Gabbana spring/summer 2012 runway show in Milan. Credit: Dolce & Gabbana