Review of Dolce & Gabbana Fall 2023 Men’s Fashion Show
Simple as Black and White
By Mark Wittmer
For Fall 2023, Dolce & Gabbana learned from the excesses of past seasons and a recent trip through the archives and delivered a collection that stripped things back to rediscover the essentials of form and sensuality that are at the heart of their design practice.
Titled Essenza, essence, the collection seeks to distill what is essential about Dolce & Gabbana: purity of proportions and material, ultimate opulence and elegance.
Restraint isn’t exactly a feature we would attribute to what is most essentially D&G, but this collection makes a convincing case that what is most essential to the brand is not animal print, crystals, intricate Catholic imagery (though the virgin and the cross do make one or two cameos), or bright colors, but rather the idea of the sensual that can be expressed by something as pure as a black suit.
Suiting takes center stage, as does the color black. While Dolce & Gabbana mine their own archives, they also look to the work of designers that have been informed over the years by D&G’s own proposal of excellent Italian suiting that is also dramatic, sensual, glamorous – designers like Anthony Vaccarello and Tom Ford, to name just a few – and reincorporate these riffs back into their own oeuvre.
The material selection is meticulous and broad, with a range of pieces considered for their ability to bring out the visual impact of light, even and especially in black: silk, sequins, lace, leather, and black crystals embroidered into the surface of fabric that shine like volcanic glass.
Along the way, as the collection shifts from black through gray and white, the designers introduce their own takes on aesthetics and fashion design discipline that have emerged during their time: grunge destruction, technical-minded street wear, and and the normalization of wearing a sweatpants and hoodie combo out of the house, all of which is seen through the discipline of tailoring and framed by suiting looks. An external corset-like structure is revived from the Fall 1999 collection, as are the short-sleeve, crystal-embroidered knits.
Following a few seasons of collections that felt loud, clashy, and all-over-the-place – though not necessarily out of touch with the Dolce & Gabbana customer – the house’s last show, for Spring 2023, saw a “re-edition” dive through the archives that reissued key pieces (a similar move also characterized their women’s collection). With this collection, it feels like the designers have rediscovered themselves and got reacquainted with their own brand and what made it great.
Stripping things back for a quiet yet rich exploration of form, material, and light, Dolce & Gabbana show they can still say quite a lot with just a few key tools.