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Fall 2009: Dolce & Gabbana Insulate Against the Economy

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Day 1 of the fall 2009 men’s collections in Milan is in the can, and it’s clear the global economic crisis is on everyone’s mind and all over the runway, with comfort, calm and familiarity some of the watchwords being bandied about.

Of course, various designers here approach this ritual as theater and, never ones to play it subtle, Dolce & Gabbana followed up last season’s pajama party by digging deeper down -- right to the padded mattress.

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With the word “Sicilia” displayed on monitors above the stage, the show began with swelling violins and a montage of nostalgic black and white photographs depicting a simple, presumably bygone, way of life on the island of Sicily.

Cut to the Killers tune “Are We Human” and a parade of quilted satin drawstring pants, tuxedo trousers and jackets, boiled wool military jackets and mixed-fabric trench coats in velvet and wool.

The color palette was predominantly black, gray and brown with pops of pink and fuchsia that grew more prevalent like the rising sun peeking over the horizon (brighter days ahead?) until the finale was a series of fuchsia tuxedo jackets handwoven in a tight over-under pattern like the webbing in a lawn chair. (We know it’s handwoven because we saw a video of the artisans working with the same bright materials in the overhead monitors.)

The show notes hammer home the handcrafting, citing as inspiration a need for “profound and binding ties” and a return to “traditional values and craftsmanship” that “linked men and their own roots, their own land and family,” but from where I was sitting, the collection was less about that and more about wrapping one’s self in high-end bubble wrap, a not-so-subtle acknowledgment that before this crisis is over, we’re going to need some industrial-strength insulation against the cold sting of the new economic reality.
But come to think of it, those tuxedos with the diamond-pattern quilting do link me back to my family –- for years my dad back in New England has had something similar hanging in his closet to help weather the bitterest of Vermont weather.
Around those parts we call ‘em quilted thermal underwear.
-- Adam Tschorn

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