Dolce & Gabbana
Dolce & Gabbana (Est. 1985) Domenico Dolce (b. 1958) and Stefano Gabbana (b. 1962) (both native Italians) met in 1980 through Dolce’s employer, designer Giorgio Correggiari. Correggiari, who died in 2012, was extremely influential on the pair said Gabbana in 2013: “He was not very famous. But for us he was important. He taught us especially what ‘not’ to do.”
Gabbana was born in Milan to a father who worked in a printing factory and a mother who worked for a laundry service. He graduated from the Istituto Superiore per le Industrie Artistiche, a design institute in Rome.
Dolce was born in Polizzi Generosa, Sicily. His father was a tailor and his mother sold fabrics and apparel. He moved to Milan to attend the fashion design school Istituto Marangoni, but dropped out before graduating because he wanted to work in the fashion industry especially for Armani.
Not long after they met, Gabbana and Dolce left Correggiari to work on their own. That was 1983. Two years later, they launched Dolce & Gabbana S.p.A. (D&G).
The two presented their first collection in Milan in 1985 and quickly established a brand known for classic Italian glamour. The pair introduced a men’s line in 1992 that translated their vision of classic sex appeal to modern, international, menswear customers. Streetwear-influenced sweatshirts, bomber jackets, lounge pants, and oversized t-shirts in graphics inspired by Dolce & Gabbana’s Italian background. The pair added tailored suits, printed button-downs, traditionally crafted leather derbies and oxfords, luxury sneakers, and wallets to complete a wardrobe for men who embrace trends and heritage.
In 1986, D&G released its first collection and held its own show, Real Women. In 1987, the first D&G store opened in Milan at 7 Via Santa Cecilia. In 1988, D&G established a partnership with Dolce’s father, Saverio, who owned the manufacturing company Dolce Saverio in Legnano, near Milan.
D&G continued to expand, holding its first fashion shows in Tokyo (1989) and New York (1990), and releasing new collection lines, including its first lingerie and beachwear line in July 1989. In 1990, D&G opened its New York City showroom at 532 Broadway. It released its first fragrance, Dolce & Gabbana Parfum, in 1992.
In 1993, the Italian designers achieved worldwide fame when Madonna chose D&G to design the costumes for her Girlie Show World Tour. Since then, they have designed for Monica Bellucci, Kylie Minogue, Angelina Jolie and Isabella Rossellini.
In 1999, the duo appeared on Oprah Winfrey’s television show with singer Whitney Houston, who used the show to debut the Dolce & Gabbana designed costumes for her My Love Is Your Love tour, that were, at the time, considered unusually risqué by fashion and music critics. The duo continued to design costumes for musical artists through the 2000s including those for Minogue’s Showgirl Homecoming tour. Madonna kept her association with the brand and participated in the company’s 2010 advertising campaigns.
In recent years Dolce & Gabbana began holding private viewings of their new collections for buyers so they could sell them before they become public and thus avoid the copying of their designs by other, fast-moving, fashion companies.
In 2006, the company started new lines of accessories and leather goods for men and women. The company also added cosmetics with Scarlett Johansson as the face of the advertising campaign.
In 2012, D&G merged with Dolce & Gabbana to strengthen the main line. The final independent D&G collection was the Spring/Summer 2012 collection shown in September 2011. In 2005, New Yorker Magazine wrote, “Dolce and Gabbana are becoming to the [new century] what Prada was to the 1990s and Armani was to the 1980s—‘gli stilisti’ whose sensibility defines the decade.”
Dolce&Gabbana (spelled without spaces unlike the name of the company) specialized in luxury items inspired by high-designs. It continues to sell sunglasses and corrective eyewear, purses, and watches. In 2010, the company announced that Madonna would design a collection of sunglasses titled MDG.
D & G was the younger, more flamboyant line of the brand. Unlike Dolce&Gabbana, D&G sold watches as well as clothing. The watches were manufactured by the Naloni and Binda Group.
In 2006 the duo launched the Anamalier line of leopard print accessories for women, and in 2007 they launched a line of crocodile travel cases for men. Other bags produced by the house include the Miss Sicily tote bag and the Dolce bag offered in straw and leather.
In a move designed to strengthen its brand awareness and positioning in the luxury field, Dolce & Gabbana launched its first high-end line of watches for men. “We were inspired by our idea of male elegance,” said co-creative designer Gabbana. “Before even thinking about the design of an object, we first imagine what story we want to tell, as in a movie. In this case, the protagonists are the great men of Italian cinema, such as Marcello Mastroianni.”
With the Italian man as inspiration, the designers chose to build the watches in precious materials with all cases and bracelets offered in 18k white, pink, or yellow gold, or in stainless steel for the sport series. Offering cutting-edge style, the collection consisted of three styles totaling 52 watches sold exclusively through selected Dolce & Gabbana boutiques. “We wanted to come out with a complete and ample collection,” said co-creative designer Dolce of the collection which was conceived in Italy and engineered and constructed in Switzerland using Swiss movements to combine the Italian design and Swiss watchmaking tradition.”
Among the series was the DG7, round watches that featured Maglia Milano 1950s-inspired mesh bracelets. The watches were powered by the mechanical automatic-wind ETA 2892 caliber with 42 hours of powers reserve. The DG7 Gems line featured precious gems on the dial. These watches ranged from offering a dial set with just one stone—diamond, ruby, emerald, or sapphire—to dials set with multiple gems as markers.
The DG7 carried all the hallmarks of a luxury watch and also the sleek simplicity of the Dolce & Gabbana style that merges classicism with a modern eye. The Roman numerals, at six and twelve that come together with linear time markers compose the watch’s clean face. The firm chose Ben Affleck as ambassador for the timepiece. He modeled it wearing a classic tee, but also in shots showing him wearing the watch with a signature Dolce & Gabbana black suit, white shirt, and slim black tie.
Created in a large 44mm size, the DS5 line is a series of certified chronometers with chronograph functions. The DS5 watches are offered in 18k white, yellow, or pink gold as well as steel and has house mechanical movements. The automatic wind calibers are the ETA Valjoux 7750, with 42 hours of power reserve. These pieces feature SuperLuminova hands and markers and are equipped with a sapphire crystal and case back for viewing the movement.
In June 2017, the firm launched the Dolce & Gabbana Alta Orologeria watches – a collection of four singular and entirely unique watches that are designed with opulent gemstones and precious metals all in the tradition of 19th century Italian goldsmiths.
The Alta Orologeria collection looks and feels as though it is from another time as its inspiration is the works of famed Italian composer, Giuseppe Verdi as four of his operas inspire the pieces. Inside each heavily bejeweled exterior beats one of three classic high complications: an automatic tourbillon, a tourbillon with a monopusher chronograph, or a tourbillon with a minute repeater.
These calibers were not manufactured by D&G, but rather in Switzerland by Manufacture Hautes Complications (MHC) who specialize in high-complication movements. Each watch takes two years to make. The Alta Orologeria watches follow the creative trajectory of D&G’s other Alta collections: Alta Sartoria for men and Alta Moda for women.
The four pieces in the collection are named after one of Verdi’s classic operas: Otello, Nabucco, Macbeth, or Don Carlo. The first, inspired by Otello measures 38mm and is a relatively modest example of 17th-century Venetian Baroque jewelry. It is fitted with a restored manual-wound movement and a mother of pearl dial. The 44mm Nabucco inspired timepiece is next with its MHC-manufactured micro rotor-powered tourbillon at 6 o’clock that competes for attention with hand-sculpted and engraved Archangel Michael at the top of the bezel.
Over eight months of goldsmithing and hand-engraving went into the bracelet and case of the 46mm Macbeth – an opulent monopusher chronograph with a tourbillon and an impressive 100 hours of power reserve.
Finally, there’s the Don Carlo – a minute repeater hiding beneath an imposing 46mm hand-engraved 18k gold lid fitted with a series of cushion-cut emeralds. Upon opening the lid the piece reveals a dial that’s been laser-carved from a singular piece of jade, neatly matching the 2.2 carats of emeralds employed throughout.
Pricing for the Dolce & Gabbana Alta Orologeria Watches were expected to start at €115,000, jumping to €690,000 for the most embellished pieces.
Dolce & Gabbana watches are currently available in 44 different lines. Each line has several designs incorporated into it. These designs range from elegant precious metals to casual leather and sports bands.
All colors of the rainbow are available, but traditional black and white-faced watches with stainless steel bands are among the most popular men’s Dolce & Gabbana watches. Although such a large choice of men’s Dolce & Gabbana watches are available to buy, retailers overwhelmingly report a select few styles as their bestsellers.
The Dolce & Gabbana fine jewelry collection reflects traditional Italian handicrafts and iconography. Furthering previous interpretations of both traditional Christian iconography and superstitious amulets, Dolce& Gabbana created a jewelry in line with the brand’s traditions: cherubs and Virgin Mary medals as well as horseshoes and other iconographic symbols from the secular sphere have, to some extent, always appeared in the company’s past collections for both accessories and ready to wear.
The jewelry is divided into five themes close to Dolce & Gabbana’s traditions and loves. Confession comprises jewelry that resembles the Rosaries and Devotion themes and includes jewelry adorned with images of the Virgin Mary. The Love theme is designed with heart shaped charms and the Family theme comprises secular icons such as the horseshoe and four leaf clover. Finally, the Sicily theme comprises elements of the four other sub-families, symbolizing how, in Sicily, devotion, confession, love and family are rolled into one.
The workmanship of the jewelry, all handmade filigree in 18 karat gold, is analogous to Dolce & Gabbana’s signature fabric: lace. Dolce & Gabbana’s fine-jewelry collection is an 80-piece collection sold exclusively in three US cities: Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and New York and is Inspired by the island of Sicily. The collection goes from bejeweled rosaries and other religious iconography to delicate filigree charms.
The Italian-made collection is handcrafted from 18k tri-color gold, accented with rubies, black sapphires, and pearls on Byzantine chains and lock-and-key pendants while a flurry of charms symbolize notions of faith, luck, and love. In keeping with retro trends, these jewels are often paired with high-waisted pencil skirts and lace-fitted bustiers.
To store the jewelry and timepieces, the company manufactures a Carretto painted carved wood jewelry box for $13,500. This Dolce & Gabbana’s jewelry box is intricately carved and painted by hand with the signature ‘Carretto’ in a font inspired by traditional Sicilian carts. Accented with polished gold hardware, it opens to a plush burgundy velvet interior that’s complemented by royal-blue textured-leather trims. It contains a removable tray and zipped pouch to store anything from delicate valuables to statement pieces.
Dolce & Gabbana made the “DG” logo an iconic and instantly recognizable symbol but they were never able to acquire the matching internet address of DG.com. In fact, DG.com is one of the oldest Internet domains and was already registered in 1986 by the computer company Data General which is no longer in business. After that company closed in 1999, the URL address went to EMC before Dollar General purchased it in 2010 after a bidding war with Dolce & Gabbana.
Dolce & Gabbana evokes unmistakable, timeless style that represents luxury and innovation combined with the strong Mediterranean flavor of its origins. It is a brand whose essence lies in its contrasting yet complementary features.