The top-heavy presence of innumerable headset-wearing security guards was an unexpected add-on to proceedings at last week's Dolce & Gabbana's "Alta Moda" show in Milan. But the surprise didn't last for long. For the 80-strong audience included Arabian princesses (one in a strikingly short ostrich feather dress), African heiresses, Italian contessas, Russian oligarchs' wives and Chinese millionairesses.
Along with Monica Bellucci and five Vogue editors (including Alexandra Shulman from London and Anna Wintour from New York), they had flown in from the couture shows in Paris - "really not so great, this season", reported one guest, "with the exception of Chanel and Valentino" - to see the Italian designers' second collection of uncompromisingly lavish couture.
This Alta Moda "Milan" collection, sometimes virginal and sometimes vixenish, was much more focused that the extraordinary debut show held in Sicily last summer. And just like that first show, it was far, far more beautiful to watch than the vast majority of fashion collections I have seen.