Dolce & Gabbana’s couture collection was surpassed only by its high jewellery – a kaleidoscope of colour, detail and gem-studded flora and fauna to keep the most demanding fairy queen happy.
By Annabel Davidson
Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream was always the most popular play with the drama students at girls’ school, what with all those romantic, feminine themes of love and fantasy, the surreal costumes, and the chance to play the Queen of the Fairies or a fairy servant. Pity the costume departments now, when faced with eager young thespians brandishing pictures of Dolce & Gabbana’s Alta Moda 2015 collection, a fantastical, Italianate take on the comic play, complete with princesses and fairies, vast ball gowns exuberantly printed with flora and fauna, cross-stitched tulle bodices, fat patchworked furs and kimonos so lusciously thick they could double as silken beds.
A glorious, sensorial overload of colour, texture, and cut, it was also accessorised to the hilt with the duo’s new Alta Gioielleria pieces, a high jewellery collection as steeped in fantasy and disorder as the couture clothing. Awash with the Shakespearean play’s motifs of nature at its most enchanting, and inspired by the Portofino location, where Domenico Dolce has a villa, the jewels are a cacophony of birds and flowers, ballerinas and antique cameos, exuberantly coloured gemstones, a masterful use of enamel and coloured titanium, and gold that has been engraved, twisted, beaded and stretched by the house’s master craftsmen – who are in turn put through their paces by the design duo, who, as Dolce says, are relatively new to jewellery design.
“We talk, talk, talk every day (with the craftsmen),” Dolce explains of how they communicate their jewellery designs to the atelier. ‘Before, it’s between me and Stefano and then we talk to our team that takes care of the jewellery and we sketch them our ideas. Then of course we often change our ideas because we see new images, books, something that inspires us a lot. The pieces are only ready one or two days before the show.’
Take the earrings of two gold filigree sparrows (“inspired by the sparrows we saw in Domenico’s villa,” Stefano Gabbana reveals) suspended from brilliant tanzanite drops, their plumage encrusted with emeralds and diamonds, sitting prettily on golden branches of pearly foliage. They’re the humane, luxurious equivalent of the Duchess of Devonshire’s penchant for real stuffed birds built into her hair towers, but so much lovelier.
A parure of earrings and a lariat-like necklace boasting the softest pink titanium ‘anemone’ flowers put the real blooms in the models’ hair to shame with their red spinel and diamond centres, all balanced on a long, detachable tangle of diamonds and pale pink tourmalines set in white gold. Almost costume jewellery-like in scale, these are the sort of jewels you would swear were paste given their sheer size but are in fact the real thing.
There is also a necklace of sparrows, a veritable aviary of a piece housing four birds perching on a golden bough of gem-encrusted gold, entwined with berries of pearls and emeralds, large tanzanite drops and more than 20 carats of diamonds. Ruby flowers twist around emerald-studded leaves while sapphires and rubies decorate the birds’ feathers. Another pair of earrings sees a handsome duo of golden squirrels, their pelts encrusted with brown diamonds, their full tails attached to lime-green peridots, and their tiny paws clutching enamelled acorns.
This is high jewellery without a doubt, but it’s also more exuberant and fantastical, unrestrained and poetic than normal – it’s the stuff of dreams, and very beautiful ones at that.