The design powerhouse Dolce & Gabbana has become a dominating presence in the world of Italian fashion design since the duo got its start in the 1980s. After overcoming a few difficulties in the brand’s history, Dolce & Gabbana has become one of the best selling luxury brands in the world thanks to its bold, versatile designs inspired by vintage Italian films and the designers’ own Mediterranean roots. While the D&G logo is one of the most recognizable in luxury fashion and beyond, who are the men behind the Dolce & Gabbana label?
Two Fashion Designers Walk Into a Bar…
Domenico Dolce was born in September, 1958, in Polizzi Generosa, Sicily. He was born into the world of fashion. From a young age, he worked at his family’s clothing business where his father was a tailor. Dolce found fashion to be his ideal form of expression and always yearned to break into the industry; his goal was to work for Giorgio Armani. Dolce dropped out of fashion design school—he claimed he already knew everything he needed to know. He began his work as an assistant designer for Giorgio Correggiari’s fashion house in Milan.
While Domenico Dolce was sure of his future in fashion design, Stefano Gabbana started his career elsewhere. He was born in November, 1962 in Milan, where his father worked for a printing factory. Gabbana graduated from a graphic design institute with the intention of working in advertising. However, he soon became disenchanted and left his job. Stefano Gabbana and Domenico Dolce met in a bar in 1980 and, at Dolce’s urging, Gabbana went to work for Giorgio Correggiari as well.
The First Collection: ‘Real Women’
After two years working for Correggiari they opened their own designer consulting studio, then later founded their own fashion house. Their runway debut came in 1985 at a show for new designers at Milan Fashion Week. Using friends and family as models in their first show began a tradition that Dolce and Gabbana continue today. Non-models frequently strut the runway at D&G shows. They named their first collection ‘Real Women,’ a nod to their casting choices.
Disappointing sales from their first collection nearly derailed their success, but serendipitous events led to the release of a second collection. They opened their first storefront in 1986 and produced a bold and versatile third collection. It was their fourth collection that really garnered attention; vintage 1940s and retro Italian cinema influenced the pair, who continued their rise to the top.
Leotards, Fragrances, Motorola, and Madonna
Additional lines dropped at a swift pace; a leotard line and ready-to-wear collection came in 1988, followed by beachwear and lingerie in 1989, then menswear in 1990. In 1994, the D&G label debuted at a lower price point with styles intended for younger crowds. Their first boutique opened in Japan in 1989. In the subsequent years they released many collections: home décor, a bridal line, D&G Junior clothing for children, timepieces, fragrances, jewelry, cosmetics, and more. The label also partnered with various brands for everything from a Motorola cell phone and sports uniforms to interior design projects.
Their success escalated when Madonna appeared in a Dolce & Gabbana corset and jacket combo. She later reached out to the couple to design 1,500 costumes for her 1993 tour. They’ve since designed costumes for movies, stage and music videos. In addition to dressing celebrities such as Beyoncé, Whitney Houston, and Angelina Jolie, Dolce and Gabbana have appeared in several films.
D&G: Bold, Exciting Luxury
Dolce & Gabbana first explored the idea of signature eyewear in 1996 and launched its eyewear collection in 1998. The designers also co-created an eyewear collection with Madonna in 2010 under the label MDG. Dolce & Gabbana continues to impress with its bold, expressive, and artistic sunglasses and eyeglasses designs. Dolce & Gabbana eyeglasses provide the same bold, exciting luxury found in its apparel and accessories collections.
While most of Dolce & Gabbana’s fashion lines continue today, a few have phased out, and additional labels all merged under the Dolce & Gabbana label in 2011. They are known for their versatile and edgy styles. The ways they explore and unite a range of themes—minimalist, showy, ultra-feminine meets masculine, bourgeois, or sports-inspired—keeps the world of luxury fashion on its toes. Now a symbol of sophisticated Italian style throughout the world, the men behind the Dolce & Gabbana label continue to stay true to their identity and vision while dressing the world in their extravagant, playful, yet timeless styles.