Lisa Armstrong: 'If you had to re-invent a definition of luxury, one of the most overused sells of modern times, then a double-sided cashmere-tweed with devastating curves over the hips is a good start.'
After 27 years, Stefano Gabbana and Domenico Dolce have achieved a level of commercial and creative success with their ready-to-wear lines, perfumes, cosmetics, sunglasses, bags and shoes that means they can do what they want. And having been everywhere, seen it all and bought the yachts, what they want now is their own couture line, Alta Moda.
Not the modern version of a couture line, which is essentially another branding tool in which far more couture-show pictures are beamed around the world than outfits are actually ordered. This was not about following fashion's 21st-century business procedure - this was about the clients and the clothes (and maybe creating an old-fashioned mystique: the blogosphere had been a-throb with speculation about this show ever since news of it first emerged).
One by one, the duo's favourite tropes emerged: the idealised Sicilian black-widow silhouette, the embellished silk and velvet kitten heels, the voluptuous floral prints and appliquéd roses, the romantic full skirts and the slinky lace ones.
But the point, as Stefano Gabbana said, "was not to do new, new, new. It was to craft something beautiful, special and unique." What would happen if more than one client fell in love with the same pink lace dress? "First come, first served," he replied firmly.
Guaranteed exclusivity, a degree of secrecy and the time (and zen-like patience) to wait for these beautiful pieces to be made, are three further definitions of luxury. The irony is that in a saturated-celebrity-and-fast-fashion culture, Dolce & Gabbana's bid for slow-fashion, for artistry and for not having to think too hard about bottom lines or the endless churn of ready-to-wear shows, can only benefit their brand.