Dolce & Gabbana's new Alta Moda couture collection is so exclusive only 100 people were invited to the show. Luke Leitch was granted a preview, photographed by Domenico Dolce.
The billionaire's bejewelled wife clinks glasses and pronounces herself bereft. She has just flown in from the Paris haute couture shows where, she confides, there was barely a single £20,000 (and upwards) new-season, handmade dress to get excited about. 'Awful. Awful,' she says, sadly. 'Except for Valentino, all a waste of time. For anorexics or drug addicts!' She sips her prosecco, peers left and right, then palpably brightens.
The marble-floored rooms around us are a seemly jostle of millionairesses, heiresses, princesses and, I suspect, the odd adventuress too. These 100-or-so women - whom we have agreed not to identify - range in age from twentysomething to seventysomething, and include many of the world's most enthusiastic couture customers. Tonight, however, they have been diverted away from couture's usual beaten track to Milan: this gilded salon in specially bought apartments just behind via della Spiga is the home of Dolce & Gabbana's great Alta Moda experiment.