“The Alta Moda show at the temple in Agrigento was about the idea of Olympus and its goddesses. Tonight it is the turn of the gods.” Said Domenico backstage at Dolce&Gabbana Alta Sartoria Menswear Show at Palazzo dei Gesuiti.
In this ad hoc amphitheater scattered with oversized masculine statues in plaster of Paris, all tumultuous sagas of beard and epically rock-hard ab, we were first presented with a trio of divine masculinity as it used to be: Zeus (Noah Mills), Hercules (Adam Senn), and Apollo (Evandro Soldati) in flowing fresco-hemmed white robes and golden sandals with golden archery equipment as sportif accessory.
Big statues depicting some of the most renowned gods like Zeus, Apollo and Poseidon set the scene within the “Palazzo dei Gesuiti.” this show was a continued consideration of a more than 2,000 year old act of cultural contamination. Around 500 years BC, this much-invaded area of what is now Italy was colonized by interlopers from what is now Greece.
They brought their architecture, their culture, and their gods before eventually being defeated by the Romans—who proceeded to appropriate and adapt much of that Greek intellectual and mythological tradition to fire the rise of an empire greater than any before it.
Last night this key moment in the globalization of the ancient world was held up as a mirror for now to an audience of clients—many mingling multi-millionaires from the US, Hong Kong, Russia, Taiwan, India, Brazil, and beyond—that has become as rich as Croesus thanks to the globalization of today.
Scene set, the collection embarked on a 130-look odyssey during which we toured every menswear territory a man sitting on a mountain of money might conceivably wish to visit.
Many of these looks followed the ancient theme but along the way made a strong case for the return of a butt-skimming oversized tanktop cinched at the hip with a narrow studded belt over a short-short as a modern heroic silhouette.
These tank tops were sometimes bouclé, sometimes metal studded, sometimes in suede knit, and sometimes patched in python skin and eel plus hand-painted relief; almost all carried sternly-profiled effigies of the old gods for the watching new gods to get into.
Equally eye-catching but more of this era was the offer of wide-legged, double breasted suiting and coats featuring riotously intricate embroideries and classical jacquard reliefs on a material podium that ran from moiré silk to marble-pattern satin.
A mid-section of suiting featuring brocades of coral on a silver background, or jackets studded at the lapel and body with real tendrils of coral, were nods to Sciacca’s local fame as a center of coral artisanship.
Crocodile featured heavily, and appeared most luxurious when expressed in casual silhouettes as in one look that paired a brown crocodile shirt, a white silk tanktop, white crocodile bermuda shorts, and brown crocodile slippers.
Along with the suiting and silk pieces patterned with ancient gold coins, an especially Croesus-appropriate piece was the crocodile jacket that was coated in a veneer of 24-carat gold and which was fastened by a gold-plated zipper. The designers had explored the option of a zipper in pure gold but discovered the metal was too soft for such use.
No matter: even before this jacket had left the runway one client had purchased it via WhatsApp. Less materially decadent but very visually attractive were the fine knits in cashmere with beautifully realized intarsia depictions of more classical masculine icons and columns both Doric and Ionian.
Towards the end the designers repeated their last-season trick of reproducing works of art—this time classically themed—on clothing in densely tapestried punto pittura or hand painting. First we saw Leon Belly’s Ulysses and the Sirens on a god-like mantle worn over a bravely scarlet miniskirt. Then, to a final Morricone crescendo, came a closing gown painted with Jean Baptiste Leloir’s 1841 painting of Homer, worn with a high-cut wide cream silk pant patterned with green-font ancient Greek plus laurel wreath.
That last model carried a phone and credit-card case made to resemble a volume of Herodotus. This served as one final reminder from history—before the applause, the dinner, the fireworks, and the dancing that followed—that all empires fall. The watching clientele of gods and goddesses got the message, enjoying themselves with gusto and buying this summer’s Alta Moda and Alta Sartoria collections with even more.