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Marsala sits on the eastern edge of Sicily's wrinkled coastline, and it is wonderfully (and almost comically) Sicilian. This is a town where the yawning piazzas are painted in sunlight and flanked by huge cathedrals and cramped shops; where school kids end the day with a leap into the sea; where pasta is inhaled and cigarettes are without guilt. It is not dissimilar to the sort of town where one half of Dolce and Gabbana (that's Mr Domenico Dolce) was raised, and it's a dreamlike vision of Sicily that has been both lionised and canonised by the brand's 36 year long body of work. Makes sense, then, that Marsala is to be the venue of Dolce and Gabbana's latest release.
But unlike the campaigns that mixed Neapolitan locals with global models, or the vaunted Alta Moda show atop Venetian waterways, Dolce and Gabbana isn't making or marketing fashion here. It's making wine. In a second collaboration with Donnafugata, a Marsala-based winemaker that takes its name from a duo of local novels (see: it's all very Sicilian), the label is to release two bottles "grown on the slopes of the Etna volcano". And, by all accounts (well, largely those of very verbose and very online enologists), it's pretty good wine.
On the run-up to Christmas, Dolce and Gabbana isn't just dabbling in the business of viticulture. A technicolour tin of hazelnut chocolates has been cooked up in collaboration with Perugina, an Umbrian confectioner that's over 100 years old. There's a selection of traditional Milanese panettone, which is strictly made, of course, using Sicilian lemons and wines. Several years back, Dolce and Gabbana released a series of kitchen appliances with Smeg: fridges, toasters, juicers, mixers, blenders, all plated in the sort of traditional kaleidoscopic works found in Sicilian folk art, and which has become something of a brand signature for Dolce and Gabbana too.
While our recent pandemic-induced confinement has left many brands clamouring for attention in the “phygital” marketplace (ugh), Dolce and Gabbana is doing something bold: it's making real stuff. The label isn't only letting us wear its world. We can now eat it, and drink it, and cook with it, and even sleep in it (yes, the French Riviera's Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat played host to a Dolce and Gabbana pop-up complete with vibrant Sicilian cart prints throughout; yes, the same sort found on the Smeg collab, and on the many sun dresses and showboat shirts of collections past). It's multi-sensory, and immersive, and most refreshingly, it's tangible. Dolce and Gabbana isn't brandbuilding as much as it is worldbuilding.
'Luxury lifestyle' is a term bandied around with reckless abandon by hapless marketers and hollow campaigns. But Dolce and Gabbana is truly making a lifestyle of its label, and one that still feels organic to its Sicilian roots and idyllic, fantastical vision. The panettone is ready to go, as is the wine, and the chocolates, and even the toasters. In fashion, at least, living La Dolce Vita isn't quite such a fantasy after all.
All available now at dolcegabbana.com
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