Love – the good, the bad and the ugly – seems to have inspired two major Italian fashion houses this season, unconsciously putting them in a Baz Luhrmann-esque face-off: two households, both alike in dignity, in fair Milan where we lay our scene. Both brands left quite an impression, after showcasing their respective Spring/Summer 2018 menswear collections. Dolce & Gabbana, for their part, caused a stir with an influencer studded runway on the first day of the Milan menswear shows, while Versace made a statement by showcasing the latest collection at Gianni Versace's Milanese Palazzo.
There was a kitschy Romeo + Juliet feel to both shows, one that felt decisively modern while tapping into the brands’ iconic archives. The crown & heart motifs, representing love & loyalty, reminded us of a Claddagh ring: an Irish wedding ring from the 17th century, also made famous by the infamous Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series. The ecclesiastic symbols, the revisited heritage prints, the rich embroideries, the sensual fabrics, and details – think velvet, silk and plenty of strass - as well as the red/black/white colour palette made for a clear statement: both Dolce & Gabbana and Versace were looking for love, the oh-so-dramatic-and-kitsch kind, and they won't give up on it.
In this Shakespearean flavored love drama, both Italian houses went home to carry out their "fashion fight", each at its respective headquarters. Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana did what they do best: urban yet dolce vita flavored statement pieces, crafted from luxurious fabrics and soaked in strass, catering to the King of Hearts looking for his damsel-in-distress. Meanwhile, Donatella Versace was surprisingly nostalgic, cherry picking from Gianni Versace's work and choosing some of his most famous prints and logos from the house's archive. Romantic “Balletto” and “Angelo” prints were reinterpreted in a fresh, modern way. It was a beautiful tribute to her iconic brother, who passed away 20 years ago, and signaled the start of a new era at Versace, one which loves the present while cherishing the past in a most eclectic way. If you haven't noticed it yet, you better watch out, and open your hearts to it: love is in the air on the Milanese runways this season.