Dolce & Gabbana took fashion runways by storm in the 1980s with their mixture of 1960s fashion and bohemian culture. They dared to be different. They dared to challenge fashion norms. This created an empire that is hailed as the defining fashion of the 2000s.
Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana created the Dolce & Gabbana fashion house in Milan, Italy in 1985. They designed a specific style that was inspired by the 1960s. They began by launching a womenswear collection in 1985 that was followed by a collection of menswear and then a line of fragrances.
Their first collection was modeled by local women instead of models, and it was called “Real Women.” In 1986, they produced a second collection and opened their first store. Their third collection was called “Transformation” and featured t-shirts, elastic silk pieces, Velcro, and snaps on models who changed behind “rickety screens.” Dolce & Gabbana set out to greatly impact the Italian fashion market with their fourth and fifth collections that were inspired by Italian cinema.
The Dolce & Gabbana brand introduced a knitwear line in 1987 and lingerie and beachwear lines in 1989. In 1991, the brand launched a leotard line. Their continued success resulted in the introduction of a menswear line and their first perfume to the brand in 1992. In 1996, the couple designed the costumes for the movie Romeo + Juliet.
In the 2000s, Dolce & Gabbana designed costumes for Madonna, Missy Elliot, Beyonce, Mary J. Blige, Whitney Houston, and Kylie Minogue. The pair were unstoppable! In 2005, the brand introduced a cosmetics line with Scarlett Johansson as the campaign’s face.
The Fashion of a Decade
The designers’ shows stood out because they created a story with their clothes, letting a movie play right before your eyes on the catwalk. They loved bohemian clothing and were not afraid of animal prints. By 1997, they had found tremendous success and announced their plan to retire at age 40.
In 2005, The New Yorker published that “Dolce and Gabbana are becoming to the two-thousands what Prada was to the nineteen-nineties and Armani was to the nineteen-eighties – gli stilisti whose sensibility defines a decade.”
Even though Dolce & Gabbana were fashion icons, they saw their fair share of scandal. In 2007, the brand was criticized for featuring models wielding knives in their advertisements. Another 2007 advertisement showed a man holding a woman down on the ground while other men watched, which was said to be “illegal and humiliating to women” because the position of the woman wasn’t selling anything and was not necessary to the advertisement. It was called a “glorification of gang rape,” and the brand removed the advertisement.
In 2012, it was reported that people in Hong Kong were not allowed to take pictures in front of Dolce & Gabbana window displays. However, an apology was issued by the company, and Hong Kong residents were able to take pictures in front of the stores.
In 2015, Dolce and Gabbana said in an interview that they oppose gay adoptions and believe that the only kind of family is the traditional family. They also criticized in-vitro fertilization and surrogacy because it was not natural. This angered the public so much that people called for a boycott of all Dolce & Gabbana products.
In 2018, a series of videos that were released by the brand sparked remarks about the brand’s racism and lack of understanding of Chinese culture because they featured a Chinese woman intentionally narrowing her eyes and attempting to eat Italian food with chopsticks. Dolce & Gabbana eventually removed the videos.
In spite of the controversy, Dolce & Gabbana continue to be at the forefront of fashion.