Fashion Men's Fashion

Dolce & Gabbana Brings Back the Metrosexual

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For its Spring 23 collection, the label dug deep into its archives, reproducing the pieces that have lately become hot among Gen Z fashion heads.

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Courtesy of Dolce & Gabbana

Stefano Gabbana admits that he can’t quite explain the current excitement around vintage pieces by Dolce & Gabbana and D&G, the diffusion line which operated from 1994 to 2011. On collectors’ sites and clothing platforms, the brand’s items from the so-called noughties are attracting serious buzz and buyers.

This is not merely because of a wave of nostalgia for classic pieces from the designers’ archives—it is an example of Gen Z’s broader obsession with the first decade of this century. The Y2K aesthetic bubble is swelling on social media, boosting paraphernalia from that era in any form, including crop tops, acid-wash denim, smokey lens sunglasses, matte make-up, ironed hair, and even Motorola Razr mobile phones.

Courtesy of Dolce & Gabbana
Courtesy of Dolce & Gabbana

Go figure. What is old is new again in this familiar cycle. As Gabbana pointed out during a press conference following the runway presentation of Dolce & Gabbanas Spring ‘23 collection in Milan this week, it has always been like this: “In the ‘80s and ‘90s, we were obsessed with the ‘40s and ‘50s.”

Although Gabbana and Domenico Dolce are always well aware of what is deemed cool at any particular moment, they’re visibly amused and proud when they describe discovering how much 20-somethings are willing to pay for their clothes from the 1990s and 2000s, years when some of those customers were mere newborns. So, with their characteristically pragmatic flair, they decided to give the audience what they wanted this season, diving into the archives for inspiration.

Courtesy of Dolce & Gabbana
Courtesy of Dolce & Gabbana

“Lately a lot of celebrities have been asking us for pieces from the past but there’s a lot that we’ve lost,” Gabbana explains. “You can’t find them anywhere. We have also taken the opportunity to buy back some of our pieces from private individuals. These were items that had been lost and we wanted to acquire them to complete our archive.”

Courtesy of Dolce & Gabbana

With rumors swirling about the plans for the upcoming Portofino wedding of Dolce & Gabbana loyalists Machine Gun Kelly and Megan Fox, I ask the designers how they choose the celebrities they collaborate with. “We work with a lot of celebrities, especially internationally,” Gabbana says. “We never choose a name. We always go in search of a personality, a story. Over time, we have built sincere, friendly relationships with many celebrities and their families.”

High on that list of relationships is one with a man who has come to embody a Dolce & Gabbana ideal of masculinity, David Beckham. He first emerged as a male style icon during the same period that inspired the latest collection—the quintessential metrosexual happily dressed in D&G.

Courtesy of Dolce & Gabbana

Even though he was not present at the unveiling of the new collection (“Unfortunately, we couldn’t make the schedules work,” the designers explained at the press conference), the glamorous spirit of the former soccer star hovers throughout it, amid direct quotations and reminders that carry us back to the golden age of the metrosexual, as remembered by designers who shaped that moment.

“It is not merely our man who has changed, he is changing along with his time,” the designers wrote in an email interview. “Our fashion looks to the present; we ourselves are inspired by the street and by what happens around us on a daily basis. Why limit ourselves?”

Courtesy of Dolce & Gabbana

But what does masculinity mean to Dolce and Gabbana? “Personality, charisma, positive values—those have always been the pillars of our fashion,” they wrote. “The first look, if one can call it that, is an example of pure fin de siècle Dolcegabbanism: white briefs and tank top and a gold chain around the neck, nothing else. It’s not a remake, but exactly those that came out on the catwalk in 1990.”

Courtesy of Dolce & Gabbana

These Re-edition pieces, taken straight out of past collections, will come with a special label that identifies the season from which the garments originally appeared. But they only made up part of the runway show: other highlights included ripped jeans, reconstructed into patchwork fabrics; clusters of rings on multiple fingers; and jeweled rosaries hanging on shiny chests left uncovered or visible through embroidered and semi-transparent shirts. Formalwear included lots of white and lots of black, and oversized suits in cotton gauze or crumpled technical fabrics that look undeniably cool, no matter what generation you’re from.

“Young people appreciate the beauty of formal dress in ways they didn’t before,” the designers wrote. “We see this by casting, working at fashion shows and, simply, by observing the young people who work with us. The jacket will always embody our idea of elegance, it’s our icon, but we still believe that elegance is first and foremost an attitude.”

Courtesy of Dolce & Gabbana

During the press conference, Gabbana said that, “Until Beckham, men’s fashion was perceived as being for homosexuals or insiders, and now, thanks to him, it has become for everyone.” He was perhaps exaggerating, but it would be hard to exaggerate the impact of athletes, Beckham chief among them, on the world of menswear..

But looking back to collections past was, ultimately, not an exercise in nostalgia for Dolce and Gabbana. Looking back on the things they have done, they are frank in their appraisal. “We realized we were good,” they wrote. “We also did a lot that was shit, but some things were really good.”

This story was originally published by GQ Italia with the headline, “Sognando Beckham.”

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