Well 'met' isn't quite the way to describe it, but it was the closest I will ever get to meeting the world famous, Italian fashion design duo.
Last weekend (20-21 April 2012), British fashion magazine Vogue hosted the first ever Vogue Festival, in association with Vertu. It has seemingly been an amazing success. This really was the opportunity for the general public and fashionistas to be in the same room as some of the World's biggest names in fashion.
Split into four sessions over two days, each fashion fixture allowed at least a thousand people a session through the doors and into the world of Vogue. The event featured beauty bars with hair styling, makeup advice and the chance to get your own Vogue covershot photo. Fresh flowers in amazing displays throughout the venue, Jo Malone candles scenting the venue and the chitterchatter of the fashion pack as we explored what was on offer.
The Vogue Festival included a number of "conversations" with Vogue Editor Alexandra Shulman and an array of fashions finest designers. As the anticipation built and the stage was set for guests, 14:45 rocked around and the lights went down.
"Ladies and Gentlemen please welcome to the stage Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana", there was a hush, there was a murmur and two of the most elegant men in fashion graced us with their presence. I think I might have held my breath for a second as I realised they were in the same room as me, sharing the same air. I was having a friday afternoon conversation with Dolce and Gabbana!!
The aim of these sessions at the Vogue Festival was to get designers chatting, to find out what makes them tick and to understand the thought processes that go into their collections. What I was not expecting was fine comedy moments from the Italian designers. From growing the business together, being lovers, celebrating success and moving on from their relationship, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana are almost one. They finish each others sentences, they make but serious comments but they are engaging and entertaining.
The conversation took three strands of what Dolce & Gabbana feel is true to them and the strength behind their brand, "Amore", "Famiglia" and "Italianitá". Domenico is more about the detail of the clothing the shape and the tailoring, whilst Stefano is all out the image of the Dolce & Gabbana brand. He strives to make sure that each collection is "something new and interesting.. to capture a dream". There is such passion for the work that they do that I imagine they could have sat all afternoon talking about their ideas, the fashion brand and where they want to take it. But Alexandra did well to keep them in check and first up we learnt about where the collections start off.
It's all about a movie, a movie in their minds. Recreating an atmosphere, portraying feelings and understanding what they want to achieve. Music is important to the design duo, it is the starting point from when the sketches begin. Their ideas are not always a commercial approach to the business, that comes later when Stefano contemplates the image of the collection, firstly it is based simply on "fantastic music". Stefano explained how the same song will play all month in the lead up to the collection being completed and "the last time we hear that song is in the fashion show, then it's off!".
With some impressive video footage to accompany the themes we were introduced to the Dolce & Gabbana "Famiglia". The concept of the family, the safety of loved ones and taking inspiration from those around you. This really signified the spirit of the Italian brand. "Amore" is a love of everything, life, passion and enthusiasm. You could feel all of that in the room! Domenico explained that "love is a big energy around the world" and its about living honestly, in a nice way and although the couple are no longer in love they continue to make something together because they are "strong" and passionate about their work. Whilst "Italianitá" is about taking inspiration from the country, "Italy is our DNA, it is us". The advertising campaigns for the fashion house really emulate the thoughts from behind the scenes, passion, inspirations and strength. "Fashion is not just for young people, fashion is life, a sense of costume", according to Domenico and I think he is right.
It was so invigorating to be able to understand the thoughts behind the giant powerhouse that is Dolce & Gabbana, and they will continue to succeed in this tough industry through their strength as they both want to "make something more special in the future". Watch this space.