Passing bull 16 – Excess breeds excess: Dolce and Gabbana at Portofino

If you want to know why Communism flourished and IS is threatening, consider the workings of Dolce and Gabbana revealed in a piece by Rebecca Mead in the New Yorker headed ‘The Couture Club’ (21 September).  But don’t read it too soon after breakfast.

Each year, Dolce and Gabbana throw a weekender for their better patrons from, say, Japan, Lebanon, Libya, Nigeria, and Russia – all the corruption capitals of the world – who do not mind $40K for a frock.  (A Hamburg client said her D&G collection took up twenty-six feet in her wardrobe.)  They present their Alta Modo collection which, says Mead, consists of ‘one-of-a-kind made-to-measure pieces; virtuoso demonstrations of what can be achieved sartorially when the imagination of the designer and the spending power of his patron are given unconstrained expression.’

This year’s event was held at Portofino, and it looks like there was no one there who would not make you vomit.  The hosts were their model, modest selves.  The show would be a triple collaboration: ‘Homer, the visionary; Dante, the poet of Purgatory and Paradise, with Beatrice la bellezza; and Shakespeare, with crazy humour.’  Why not rope in God and all his gang?

The hosts, we are told, were once an item.  We are not told whether they had a family, but we are told that ‘they maintain an affectionate bond that is augmented by the presence of handsome younger partners.’  One of those has inspired this collection by the 1999 movie of the Dream.  Enthusiasm for this Italian dream was not dampened by the climax of the Greek tragedy next door.  That may as well have been on Mars – like wedded bliss, or just plain sanity.

The guests are people of frightful taste who cannot be seen without their iPhone so that they can link to Instagram and text orders from the catwalk.  It must be like taking candy from a baby.  The wife of a gun English entrepreneur (who is ‘tan, slim, and silver-haired’) stepped out of a changing room ‘this time wearing the black dress, over a very visible pair of co-ordinating gold hot pants.  She locked eyes with her husband.  ‘It’s very me’ she said with delight.  ‘When it’s right, I know it’s right, right away.’

Security guards were everywhere, but the models were unfazed.  Each of the ninety-four of them would only model one couture outfit.  The hand-written invitations said ‘We look forward to revealing the Alta Moda Summer Night’s Dream in our fairy garden under the moonlight.’  Gabbana was dressed in shorts and a tank-top that showed his tattoos (a scorpion, darling, and his name).  Dolce said that ‘Disney is the best teacher for life.’

Liveried footmen of amazingly unguessable sexuality – in case, I suppose, some of the entrepreneurs were broad minded – held up gilded mirrors so that the chatelaines ready to expire from Botox overdoses could justify being robbed.  There were eighty footmen and on the second night they became Roman centurions and Renaissance swains, with floral bowers to form an entrance of pink and blue.  Three bare-chested acrobats wore velvet bloomers with feathery wings.  A string quintet played (in jock-straps and thongs?)  A young woman in glittery tunics and gladiator sandals spread rose petals.  The supper was of course gilt-edged.

There had, sadly, been a spat in what might be called the community.  Dolce had been quoted as saying that children born by IVF or surrogacy were ‘synthetic’.  I wonder what he meant – he would be a world authority on synthetics, but he would know nothing about children or parenthood, and he would not get any help from his handsome younger partner.  However, Elton John was upset.  He has two children born through surrogacy.  (Spare a thought at least for them.)  He urged a ‘celebrity boycott’ – not just an ordinary boycott.  He was immediately supported by such nice down-to-earth people as Victoria Beckham and Madonna.  Gabbana called John a ‘fascist’ and posted an image ‘Je suis D&G.’ Dolce apologised and John rescinded the boycott.  Wasn’t that handsome, if not downright sweet, of E J?  We are not told what the children said.

One real charmer from Brooklyn said: ‘You know the Burlington Arcade?  That’s ours….You know the controversy over Coney Island?  We were the controversy.’  A maîtresse from Lebanon said ‘I’m Miss Perfect in Beirut.’  They all thought the tax charges against the hosts were an outrage and that their hosts had been ‘vindicated for their honesty and integrity.’  The ending of the tax charges shows why Italy is busted.

The final party was in gold.  Guests were encouraged to show ‘eccentricity’, ‘ostentation’, and ‘elegance’.  For that, they got the last word in kitsch – the songless, soulless, and tasteless Kylie Minogue in a gold mini and a towering gold headdress.  She was accompanied by male burlesque dancers in spiked heels.  Huge cut-out hearts were passed among the guests, who waved them aloft, and a cannon shot thousands of scraps of metallic paper so that it rained gold.

Well, it may remind some of Nero, and others of Hitler, especially the Knight of the Long Knives, but you would not trust one of them – not one – to mind your dog even for an instant.  Haut couture is complete bullshit by which crooks relieve fools of their money.