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					                                                                                                                                                                      Gabbana. His posture was peculiar to
                                                                                                               BACKSTAGE NOTES                                        tailors around the world—a sort of
                                                                                                                                                                      crouch that permits the hands to range
                                                                                                                                                                      from the trouser hems to the waistband
                                                                     HANDS AND EYES                                                                                   to the shoulders and collar with a mini-
                                                                                                                                                                      mum of additional bending and reach-
                                                                                                              When Dolce met Gabbana.                                 ing. The hands were working over the
                                                                                                                                                                      garments in a blur, pinning, stitching,
                                                                                                              BY JOHN SEABROOK                                        nipping and tucking, and always fin-
                                                                                                                                                                      ishing with a little pat. As the hands

M       ilan was cold and foggy, and al-
        though it was still midafternoon
when I arrived outside the Dolce &
                                                                                                                          lobby area at 7 Santa Cecilia, huddled
                                                                                                                          so close to one another that it was nec-
                                                                                                                          essary to thread a path through them in
                                                                                                                                                                      worked, the legs described tight circles
                                                                                                                                                                      around the standing model, sometimes
                                                                                                                                                                      moving forward, sometimes backward.
Gabbana showroom, at 7 Via Santa Ce-                                                                                      order to reach the receptionist’s desk.     The models towered over Dolce, their
cilia, the January day was already grow-                                                                                  Many wore headphones, and their heads       heads far removed from the whirl of tai-
ing dark. The city had been under a                                                                                       were bobbing gently. They looked seri-      loring going on below.
blanket of subalpine fog for days, and                                                                                    ous and introspective, as though they           Sitting languidly on the other side
the air was brown and felt gluey, as                                                                                      were psyching themselves up for the big     of the room, ignoring Dolce, was a tall
though the mist and trapped smog were                                                                                     game.                                       man in camouflage pants and an olive-
congealing.                                                                                                                  Upstairs in a large, high-ceilinged      green V-necked sweater, worn over a
    This was the last of three days of fit-                                                                                atelier, a short bald man was busily,       navy-blue collared shirt. His clothes had
tings for the Dolce & Gabbana win-                                                                                        almost manically, fitting the models         the casual appearance that is often the
ter, 2005, men’s show, which would be                                                                                     with the clothes they would wear in the     result of careful calculation. He was thin
staged the following afternoon, in the                                                                                    show, one at a time. A row of pins was      and deeply tanned, and had a heavy-
courtyard next to the showroom. It                                                                                        stuck into the front of his left trouser    lidded expression that was not tired
was to be a big show, with eighty-six                                                                                     leg, and the handle of a pair of scissors   or bored, exactly, but profoundly list-
outfits, or “exits,” to be worn by sixty                                                                                   protruded from his right front pocket.      less. This was Stefano Gabbana, Dolce’s
models. Several dozen of those models                                                                                     This was Domenico Dolce, the forty-         forty-two-year-old partner. When he
were occupying the floor of the cramped                                                                                    six-year-old part owner of Dolce &          rested his forehead in his hand, a small




                                                                                                                                                                                                                   CONTRASTO




Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana: Their look is as much about attitude as about clothes. Photograph by Stefano De Luigi.
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                                                              tattooed cross could be seen on the back     reconciled. The jeans had splashes of
                                                              of his neck, emerging above his shirt        paint, studs, snakeskin inserts, and em-
                                                              collar, part of a more elaborate tattoo      broidery, and were worn and abraded
                                                              below.                                       in a variety of ways. Indeed, the exqui-
                                                                  The designers had been working on        site distressing of the fabric is almost as
                                                              this collection since August. Dolce does     time-consuming and costly as the em-
                                                              almost all of the tailoring, first sketch-    broidering of it; workers make most of
                                                              ing the outfits, and then slowly build-       the holes by hand, cutting the denim
                                                              ing up prototypes in muslin, on dozens       with knives and rubbing it with pumice
                                                              of mannequins around his studio. Gab-        stones. But, no matter how ornamental
                                                              bana helps with selecting the fabric and     the jeans are, they all fit in the same
                                                              deciding on the over-all feeling of a        classic, unflashy way. For Dolce & Gab-
                                                              collection, but his essential contribution   bana, the impulse toward excess is al-
                                                              to the creative process doesn’t come into    ways straining against the boundaries
                                                              play until the fittings start. Gabbana’s      of good tailoring.
                                                              expertise lies not in the making but in          Dolce and Gabbana are becoming to
                                                              the judging of an outfit, and his work        the two-thousands what Prada was to the
                                                              is performed in an instant—that instant      nineteen-nineties and Armani was to the
                                                              in which an outfit makes its impression.      nineteen-eighties—gli stilisti whose sen-
                                                              He is the eyes for Dolce’s hands. Now        sibility defines the decade. In 2003, the
                                                              the eyes looked starved; they seemed         designers sold more products in Italy—
                                                              to require regular servings of fresh im-     clothes, sunglasses, perfume, underwear,
                                                              agery to keep them animated. It was as       watches, jewelry—than any other fashion
                                                              though denial were sharpening their ap-      house. And although the house is still
                                                              petite for the moment when, at a signal      only half the size of Armani in world-
                                                              from Dolce, they would be turned loose       wide sales, it is catching up fast. (Last year,
                                                              on the outfit.                                the company passed Versace in total sales.)
                                                                                                           Dolce & Gabbana is the anti-Armani.

                                                              D     olce and Gabbana sound like their
                                                                    clothes. They talk about their work
                                                              in the same way they do it. Dolce starts
                                                                                                           Giorgio Armani discovered a way of ex-
                                                                                                           porting a distinctively Italian style—the
                                                                                                           sleek, gray-toned aesthetic of Italian in-
                                                              a point, Gabbana embroiders the facts        dustrial design—to America by linking
                                                              with color, spinning the anecdotes out,      it to cinematic notions of glamour. In
                                                              and then Dolce rounds the discussion off     doing so, he taught Hollywood how to
                                                              with a nip and a tuck.                       dress Italian. Dolce and Gabbana ab-
                                                                  Gabbana: “I like clothes, but not so     sorbed this triumph and, a decade later,
                                                              much to touch them. I don’t want to          reversed it: they taught Italians how to
                                                              spend too much time on one pair of           look Hollywood.
                                                              clothes.”                                        It would be hard to gauge Dolce &
                                                                  Dolce: “He has a very quick eye.”        Gabbana’s contribution to fashion his-
                                                                  Gabbana: “I have to like the image,      tory by pointing to a silhouette or a form
                                                              then I just want to move on. Domenico        the designers have changed, or a fabric
                                                              is a perfectionist.”                         they have pioneered. In their women’s
                                                                  Dolce: “I like to feel the clothes.”     clothes, they have always favored the full-
                                                                  The sartorial dimension of that con-     figured woman over the skinny, man-
                                                              versation was evident in the eighty-six      nish silhouettes of minimalists such as
                                                              outfits hanging on movable metal racks        Prada, Jil Sander, and Helmut Lang, but
                                                              around three sides of the room, next to      this is hardly revolutionary. Perhaps the
                                                              their respective accessories, which were     best place to see their influence is on the
                                                              neatly packaged in slim clear plastic        sidewalks of any Italian city—low-slung
                                                              bags, like kids’ snacks. There were the      flared jeans that drag on the pavement,
                                                              dark conservative suits and overcoats of     worn with a studded belt, a knitted skull-
                                                              Dolce’s Sicilian heritage, and there was     cap, sunglasses, and jewelry, underwear
                                                              also a fox-fur coat with patchwork cam-      showing above the waistband. Their
                                                              ouflage details—a look that was decid-        look is as much about attitude as about
                                                              edly more Gabbana. There were thirteen       clothes—pants with lots of pockets, but-
                                                              kinds of jeans in the collection: denim      tons, and zippers, plus a drawstring and
                                                              is the fabric in which the designers’ di-    some dangling straps, buckles, studs, and
                                                              verse personalities are most successfully    large metallic logos. (You don’t want to
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                                                 RETREAT

                              The city abandoned, its citizens fled.
                              A paper chain hung on the wall left standing.
                              A single flip-flop graced the hard-packed floor.
                              The rest diminishes their loss: these were barracks
                              and yesterday the men tried to blow a hole
                              through me as I squatted up the road
                              taking note of their grim frenzy,
                              like termites, no, more like tiny sailors
                              from a different time, when war came
                              over water and the battle arrived at a delay.
                              There was nothing to do but watch the enemy
                              grow from blot to galleon; colors nailed
                              to the mast. Like the bright orange flashing
                              we hung on the car’s hood that said to the sky,
                              don’t bomb us we are your friends.
                              These others, they had no friends in the sky.

                                                              —Eliza Griswold


get stuck behind a Dolce & Gabbana                      the fashion world. Their business and
fan when going through an airport metal                 their distinctive style are based not so
detector.) These are clothes to brighten                much on family history and artisanal tra-
listless glances.                                       ditions as on their relationship with each
                                                        other. And the only reason that Dolce
“
   D   ’accordo,” Dolce called out, and
       that was Gabbana’s signal to look.
His eyes inhaled the outfit. He unfolded
                                                        and Gabbana are creative and business
                                                        partners at all is that they were romantic
                                                        partners first.
his long limbs and rose from his chair. If                  Dolce was born in 1958, and grew
he didn’t like something, he would say                  up in the town of Polizzi Generosa,
“No” immediately. Dolce rarely argued,                  near Palermo, in Sicily. His father, Sa-
and, if he tried, Gabbana would wag                     verio, was a sarto—a tailor—and his
his finger and shake his head, and say                   mother, Sara, sold fabric and clothing
“No” again.                                             in the local emporium. His father made
   This time the verdict was “Sì.” The                  clothes for both men and women, for all
model was wearing jeans, a belt with a                  occasions, from the heavy woollen coats
big “DG” logo on the buckle, and no                     worn by the gentry when on horseback
shirt. Gabbana walked around behind                     to the black velvet peasant caps worn
him, nodding approvingly at the fit.Then                 by their estate workers. He also made
he scooped a few pieces of jewelry from                 a wide variety of undergarments, from
the baskets of bling that were on a table               men’s sleeveless T-shirts to women’s bras,
behind him and draped them over the                     girdles, corsets, and petticoats. If there
model’s chest.                                          was a wedding in town, he would make
   “Perfetto,” Gabbana said, and sat                    the dress for the bride and the suits for
down to await the next model.                           the groomsmen. Seasons in the Dolce
                                                        household were marked by the weights

U    nlike the Guccis, Pradas, Puccis,
     Zegnas, Ferragamos, and Fendis,
Dolce and Gabbana do not come from
                                                        of the fabrics that the family worked
                                                        with: linen for summer; velvet, gabar-
                                                        dine, and light wool for fall; heavy wool
families with long pedigrees in the pro-                for winter; cotton for spring. In all Dol-
duction and sale of luxury goods—one                    ce’s memories of his youth, he always
of those families which occupy quasi-                   sees weather and fabric together: the
noble status within the Italian fashion                 way the light looked on the cloth. At
hierarchy. They began as outsiders, with                night, the clothes that his father was
their noses pressed to the windows of                   working on hung from overhead racks
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TNY—03/14/05—PAGE 93—133SC.
                                                                                               in his shop, and they loomed large in the    ion design at the Marangoni Institute
                                                                                               boy’s imagination.                           but dropped out after four months, be-
                                                                                                   Dolce: “I made my own pants when         cause he realized that he already knew
                                                                                               I was six years old.”                        everything the school had to teach. His
                                                                                                   Gabbana: “Like for a doll.”              dream was to work for Armani, whom he
                                                                                                   Dolce: “I make all the clothes in my     had never met. One day, without mak-
                                                                                               father’s shop.”                              ing an appointment, he carried his book
                                                                                                   Gabbana: “You see? He is a genius. I     of sketches over to Armani’s headquar-
                                                                                               am not like him.”                            ters, on Via Durini. Inside the door, there
                                                                                                   Gabbana was born in Milan in 1962.       was a long white carpet leading to the
                                                                                               His father worked in a printing fac-         receptionist’s desk. Dolce wasn’t sure
                                                                                               tory, and his mother ironed for a laun-      if he should walk on it with his shoes
                                                                                               dry service.                                 on.“I am such a cretino,” he says.“I know
                                                                                                   Gabbana: “Fashion and luxury were        nothing.” He decided that he would look
                                                                                               not what my family talked about at           ridiculous appearing at the front desk
                                                                                               home. The only designer I care about         without shoes, so he approached by
                                                                                               was Fiorucci.”                               sidling along the wall, where he could
                                                                                                   Dolce:“Who wasn’t even a designer.”      step without sullying the carpet. He
                                                                                                   Gabbana: “More like a graphic artist     doesn’t know if Armani ever saw the
                                                                                               who works in clothes.”                       sketches.
                                                                                                   Dolce: “A style-maker.”                      Dolce found a job as an assistant to
                                                                                                   Gabbana: “I didn’t know!”                a designer named Giorgio Correggi-
                                                                                                   Gabbana’s main interests as a teen-      ari. One night at a club, he met a kid
                                                                                               ager were “pop music, going dancing,         named Gabbana. Dolce, quiet and shy,
                                                                                               riding my motorino around, and acting        was impressed with Gabbana’s good
                                                                                               crazy. I wore a Lacoste shirt, Levi’s, and   looks and outgoing personality; Gab-
                                                                                               Ray-Bans, the original green ones with       bana wasn’t so taken with Dolce, but he
                                                                                               gold frames, and boots with a square         was happy to hear his advice on how to
                                                                                               toe, but not Frye. And I have lovers,” he    approach Correggiari for a job. Correg-
                                                                                               added gravely. “Many lofers.” (I thought     giari ended up hiring Gabbana to work
                                                                                               for a moment he meant “loafers,” and         on sportswear, and Dolce taught him
                                                                                               wondered how many pairs a guy can            how to sketch and the basics of tailor-
                                                                                               have.) Gabbana’s memories are a daz-         ing, and in the process they became a
                                                                                               zle of color, light, and speed—life as       couple. By 1983, they had parted ways
                                                                                               seen from the saddle of a motorino.          with Correggiari and were living to-
                                                                                               (He still rides a motorino around Milan,     gether in a one-room loft in Milan. The
                                                                                               and you can often spot it—it’s the one       room had a round, wobbly wooden table
                                                                                               painted in leopard print—parked on the       in the middle, and they would sketch
                                                                                               sidewalk of Via Goldoni, outside the         sitting across from each other. If one
                                                                                               company’s magnificent glass-sheathed          erased too hard, the table would jig-
                                                                                               office building.) He studied                            gle and spoil the other’s line.
                                                                                               graphic design in high school                              Dolce: “We always filed
                                                                                               but wasn’t much of a student,                          two different invoices for the
                                                                                               and on completing his studies                          freelance work we did, even
                                                                                               he needed a job. A friend sug-                         when we were working for the
                                                                                               gested the fashion business.                           same client.”
                                                                                                   This was the early eight-                              Gabbana: “Our accountant
                                                                                               ies, the dawn of the Italian-                          said, ‘Why not just do one
                                                                                               designer-ready-to-wear era.                            invoice for both of you? Put
                                                                                               In 1982, Giorgio Armani was                            Dolce and Gabbana at the top.’ ”
                                                                                               on the cover of Time, partly as a result         So the brand was born, the brain-
                                                                                               of the success of the film “American          child of a Milanese bookkeeper.
                                                                                               Gigolo,” in which Richard Gere could             In 1985, Dolce & Gabbana was one
                                                                                               be seen on movie screens cavorting in        of six new talents chosen to design pieces
                                                                                               Armani while Deborah Harry sang              for the Milan shows. As a result, the de-
                                                                                               “Roll me in designer sheets, I’ll never      signers were able to persuade a factory
                                                                                               get enough.”                                 in Piedmont to make the clothes for
                                                                                                   Dolce was already in Milan. He had       their own collection.
                                                                                               enrolled in a three-year course in fash-         Dolce: “I am getting up at five to do
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the three-hour drive, then drive back             the clothes themselves. One could argue       restraints of taste and tailoring, the com-
at night.”                                        that Dolce & Gabbana established it-          pany could not have become the phe-
   Gabbana:“Because I don’t like to stay          self with the public mainly through ad-       nomenon that it is today. By the end
in hotels.”                                       vertising, rather than relying on the ap-     of the nineteen-eighties, the designers’
   Dolce: “So we went back and forth.             proval of the fashion press. However,         good Catholic girl was showing more and
In this little car. We were so young.”            while Scianna’s photographs gave the          more of her underwear, and by the early
   Gabbana: “You don’t think then.                brand an identity that Italians could         nineteen-nineties that underwear was
You are very naïve, and everything is             relate to, it was too Mediterranean to        leopard print, which became a Dolce &
spontaneous.”                                     capture a wide audience outside Italy.        Gabbana trademark. Leopard print al-
   That collection, called “Real Women,”          Seeking to broaden their appeal without       lowed the designers to combine the
débuted in March, 1986. There were                losing touch with their Italian roots, the    naughtiness of the boudoir with the
stretchy black jersey dresses with flow-           designers began appropriating imagery         baroque formality of the Sicilian aris-
ing toile sleeves and shawls. The clothes         from neorealist Italian cinema. Scenes        tocracy. But, with Dolce pushing Gab-
were weirdly funereal and sexy at the             from classic films by Rossellini, Fellini,     bana toward elegance, the line also began
same time.The press liked the line, but it        De Sica, Antonioni, Pasolini, and Vis-        to develop a kind of ecclesiastical fin-
didn’t sell. Gabbana wrote a letter to the        conti, as well as from movies featuring       ery; these were clothes for women who
fabric supplier, cancelling their order for       Totò, an Italian comedian, were inter-        wanted to feel like a papal nuncio. The
the next collection, and, feeling defeated,       preted by the most prominent commer-          men’s line began in 1990, and repre-
the couple went to stay with Dolce’s              cial photographers and models of the          sented a return to the company’s more
family in Sicily for the Christmas holi-          nineties. These images allowed custom-        conservative roots; Dolce has always been
day. There, Saverio Dolce offered them            ers to feel that they were buying cos-        more in control of the men’s clothes.
the money to pay for that collection. It          tumes for a “Dolce Vita” fantasy of their     On the other hand, in a younger line,
was too late, Gabbana told him, because           own. The idea wasn’t particularly subtle,     D&G, for men and women, which dé-
they had already cancelled the fabric             but it was effective.                         buted in 1994, the Gabbanian impulse
order. But the letter to the supplier had                                                       toward excess was given free rein.
been lost in the mail, and the fabric was
waiting for them when they returned
to Milan.
                                                  W       ithout Dolce’s tailoring abilities,
                                                          and his sense of propriety, bred
                                                  in the provinces, the company wouldn’t
                                                                                                   With the changing nature of the de-
                                                                                                signers’ collaboration, the ideal Dolce &
                                                                                                Gabbana woman evolved from Anna
                                                  have had a chance. But, without Gab-          Magnani in Rossellini’s “Roma, Città

O      n that same trip to Sicily, Dolce
       had seen a billboard in Palermo
that showed a black-and-white photo-
                                                  bana’s urban freedom from those same          Aperta” (a modest but powerful mother


graph of a woman in a shawl, with her
head down, in a sorrowful attitude. He
couldn’t get the image out of his mind.
He found out that the photographer’s
name was Ferdinando Scianna, an Ital-
ian photojournalist known for his neo-
realist depictions of Sicily. Dolce asked
him if he would photograph their clothes.
Scianna refused, saying that he wasn’t
a fashion photographer. But because he
was Sicilian the designers eventually per-
suaded him to come to Sicily with the
model Marpessa, a quiet, introverted
beauty, who, wearing no makeup, posed
among fishermen and fruit sellers and
old ladies, in grittily realistic surround-
ings that recalled the aftermath of an
earthquake. Only later did the designers
discover that Scianna had not, in fact,
shot the photograph that Dolce had seen
in Palermo—a photographer named Le-
tizia Battaglia had taken it. Like so many
of the best things about Dolce & Gab-
bana, the campaign was an accident.
    Scianna’s early advertising images
were at least as important in introduc-
ing Dolce & Gabbana to the public as                                    “It makes me feel better about myself.”

TNY—03/14/05—PAGE 99—133SC.—live opi art a10334
                                                                                                figure, in dark, layered clothes, with        in the same building in Milan, across
                                                                                                lots of skirts and sweaters, and somewhat    the street from where they work.
                                                                                                unbuttoned blouses), to Sophia Loren            Because so much of the unique ap-
                                                                                                performing a striptease for Marcello         peal of Dolce & Gabbana rests on the
                                                                                                Mastroianni in De Sica’s “Ieri, Oggi,        unlikely union of the two designers’ per-
                                                                                                Domani” (bras, corsets, and other un-        sonalities, one has to wonder whether
                                                                                                dergarments from the rafters of Saverio      their business can survive the breakup.
                                                                                                Dolce’s shop have been reimagined and           Gabbana: “At first, I just wanted to
                                                                                                transformed into outer garments), to Ma-     leave. Just leave. But let’s face it—I am
                                                                                                donna, who wore a Dolce &                               not stupid. So I stayed. Lit-
                                                                                                Gabbana beaded corset at the                            tle by little, we become friends
                                                                                                première of “In Bed with Ma-                            again, and learn to have a re-
                                                                                                donna,” in 1991. Madonna                                lationship again, though ob-
                                                                                                translated Dolce & Gabbana                              viously not like before.”
                                                                                                for the masses. The designers                               Dolce:“We know each other
                                                                                                created more than fifteen hun-                           very well.This is real love,when
                                                                                                dred costumes for Madonna’s                             you get to know the person be-
                                                                                                Girlie Show Tour, in 1993,                              hind the person.”
                                                                                                and, more recently, designed                                Gabbana: “We were to-
                                                                                                the white cowgirl outfit for her “Music”      gether for nineteen years, night and
                                                                                                video. Nowadays, the ideal woman is          day—it’s like forty-five years, for most
                                                                                                Monica Bellucci, a bellissima Italian ac-    people.”
                                                                                                tress who always seems to be weeping in
                                                                                                her films, and who is the subject of the
                                                                                                director Giuseppe Tornatore’s short film
                                                                                                for the company’s fragrance, Sicily. (The
                                                                                                                                             “
                                                                                                                                              L    ook at this boy,” Gabbana was saying
                                                                                                                                                   now to Dolce,studying the head shot
                                                                                                                                             of the next model to be called up for a fit-
                                                                                                ideal Dolce & Gabbana man never strays       ting.“Look at his face.” With his fingers,
                                                                                                far from the soccer field.)                   Gabbana drew a circle in the air around
                                                                                                    Almost two thousand people work          the face. “He is a beautiful boy, no?”
                                                                                                at Dolce & Gabbana. The business is              Dolce shrugged and said, “Sì, beauti-
                                                                                                still entirely owned by the two design-      ful.” He walked back to the fitting area,
                                                                                                ers. In 2002, Gabriella Forte, the former    to await the boy’s arrival.
                                                                                                head of Calvin Klein, was brought in             It was past five by now. Only a few
                                                                                                to oversee the North American market,        models remained to be fitted, but the pro-
                                                                                                which is just a sixth the size of the com-   cess had dragged on longer than expected,
                                                                                                pany’s combined European sales. In re-       and the designers had work left to do on
                                                                                                cent years, both Moët Hennessy-Louis         the women’s “pre-collection”—the line
                                                                                                Vuitton and the Gucci Group have of-         they make for the buyers, before the run-
                                                                                                fered to buy Dolce & Gabbana. “What,         way show at the end of February. And
                                                                                                do we need more mahney?” says Gab-           there were also fittings to be completed
                                                                                                bana, apropos of those offers, rubbing       for the D&G men’s show, which would
                                                                                                his fingertips together. Apparently, they     be staged two days after the Dolce &
                                                                                                do not. In addition to their apartments      Gabbana show. One could sense the bur-
                                                                                                and offices in Milan, the designers have      den of all the looks still to process, stacked
                                                                                                houses in Monte Carlo and Stromboli,         up like incoming aircraft waiting to land.
                                                                                                and they recently bought L’Olivetta, a           Gabbana:“When we started, we were
                                                                                                villa in Portofino which Prime Minister       a two-million-lira company. Now we
                                                                                                Silvio Berlusconi had reportedly tried       are—”
                                                                                                to purchase.                                     Dolce: “Almost a one-billion-euro
                                                                                                    But success has come at a price—         company.”
                                                                                                Dolce & Gabbana is no longer Dolce               Gabbana:“Wholesale.We didn’t have
                                                                                                and Gabbana.The relationship on which        much money, so we had to do everything
                                                                                                the business was based ended two years       in stages.”
                                                                                                ago, although the designers have publicly        Dolce: “One thing at a time.”
                                                                                                acknowledged the breakup only recently.          Gabbana:“Now we have to do every-
                                                                                                They continue to own their homes to-         thing at once. Because that is what the
                                                                                                gether, but they now have different boy-     customer wants.”
                                                                                                friends; the two couples often travel to-        Gabbana’s cell phone rang, and he
                                                                                                gether. They live in separate apartments     walked to the other end of the big room
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to talk privately. He had recently finished
taping ten new episodes of a dating real-
ity show called “La Sottile Linea Rosa,”
or “The Thin Pink Line,” an Italian Fox
variation of an English series called
“Straight Dates for Gay Mates.” In the
show, Gabbana plays the fairy godfather
who drops in from time to time with
fashion advice. (“With a body like that, a
black sheath. It looks good on me, just
imagine how it will look on her.”) He
can be seen holding a magic wand, sit-
ting in front of dozens of burning can-
dles of different lengths, with leopard-
print wallpaper in the background.
    Dolce didn’t want to participate in
the show, and the venture, coming at a
time when they were separating, seemed
to signal a break in their creative interests
as well, but Gabbana did it anyway. Gab-
bana, for his part, says that he is interested
in exploring other acting opportunities.
    Gabbana returned as the beautiful boy,
an American, was shown into the room.
The model smiled, said “How’s it going?”
to Dolce, and immediately removed his
trousers. An assistant handed him some
Dolce & Gabbana underwear to put
over his briefs, and then he slipped on a
chocolate-and-cream-colored tracksuit.
    The tracksuit was part of a relatively
new addition to the Dolce & Gabbana
line: luxury clothes for the gym. Several
years ago, Dolce started going to a gym
in the evenings, after work. He had
never been sporty, like Gabbana, who
told me, “I do track and field, including
pole-vaulting, in high school. Also bas-
ket, swim, and volley.” The world of
working out was new to Dolce, and rep-
resented a more solitary existence, but he
was impressed by how well dressed the
men in the gym were—much better
dressed than the women, who looked
“awful,” he thought.
    But fitting the tracksuit seemed to
perplex Dolce. He kept fussing with the
waist, adjusting exactly where the pants
fell on the model’s “Adonis belt”—the
muscles that curl down on either side of
the abdominals. He tried hemming the
pants, but that didn’t seem to satisfy him,
either. He squatted at the model’s feet,
holding the hem between his fingers, his
temples twitching with concentration.
    When I left, they were still at it. Out-
side, night had fallen, but the smog
had lifted, and the air had a sugary scent
of snow. o
                                                 THE NEW YORKER, MARCH 14, 2005   101

TNY—03/14/05—PAGE 101—133SC.

				
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