Dolce & Gabbana’s runway show at Milan Fashion Week has long been a hot ticket. After all, the brand is known for dressing the world’s sexiest women: Madonna, Jennifer Lopez, Scarlett Johansson, Beyoncé. Just don’t expect to see Selena Gomez at Sunday’s event.
In June, the blog Catwalk Italia posted on its Instagram account a collage of Gomez in five red dresses — including a Dolce & Gabbana frock from 2011 — prompting designer Stefano Gabbana to post in the comments: “È proprio brutta!!!” Translation? “She’s really ugly.”
Among those who rushed to Gomez’s defense was Miley Cyrus, who wrote that Gabbana’s comment was “bulls—t,” while thousands of others demanded the designer apologize.
Instead, Gabbana, 55, posted on his own account (which does not allow followers to comment) the crying-laughing emoji and “MY NAME IS SELENA!!! #saysorrytome,” and “Omfg #pleasesaysorrytoselena.”
In an era when many celebrities take back their words once the Internet cries foul, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana don’t care what the haters think.
They (especially Gabbana) call them as they see them, unabashedly dissing fashion-forward women such as Kate Moss and Victoria Beckham. The duo also sticks to their religious, political and cultural guns — speaking out against gay adoption and gleefully supporting Melania Trump — which has prompted countless boycotts of the brand.
But all that negative publicity might just be good for Dolce and Gabbana.
“They can afford to be bad boys,” a former executive for the brand told The Post. “They love to party and travel, and the bratty bad-boy thing works for the brand’s image.”
Something’s certainly working: Bloomberg values the brand as worth more than $5 billion.
‘They love to party and travel, and the bratty bad-boy thing works for the brand’s image’
The designers met in the 1970s while working at the same Milan design studio. They’ve previously said how the more flamboyant Gabbana helped draw Dolce out of his shell. The two began dating and formed their label in 1985.
As far back as 1997, Dolce told The Independent, “Stefano is instinctive and impulsive. I always tell him: ‘Before you talk, count one, two, three.’ Stefano doesn’t think, it just pops out of his mouth.”
According to the former Dolce executive, “Stefano does the provocation, the lashing out, then calm, kind Domenico cleans up the mess.”
The brand exploded as a pop-culture force in the 1990s, when Madonna — then known as the most provocative woman in the world — wore Dolce & Gabbana to the 1991 premiere of her film “Truth or Dare” and commissioned the duo to design costumes for her 1993 Girlie Show World Tour. Suddenly, they were the definition of sexy ’90s power dressing.
Since then, Dolce & Gabbana has become synonymous with luxe beauty: lush, overblown florals, rich embroidery and brocade, ultra-feminine silhouettes (including, often, corsets) and black lace that nods to their Catholic backgrounds.
It’s the kind of provocative — but never vulgar — clothing you imagine an Italian screen siren like Sophia Loren wearing in her Hollywood heyday. Vogue fashion critic Suzy Menkes has dubbed the duo “masters of the art of mixing exceptional clothes with a whole lot of fun.”
In 1999, Dolce and Gabbana publicly came out as a couple, but they’ve long resisted labels. (They split up in 2005.) Last year, Gabbana told an Italian newspaper, “I don’t want to be called gay … The word ‘gay’ was invented by those who need to label people.”
He also angered LGBTQ groups, which he referred to as “a defense,” adding, “I don’t want to be protected by anyone.”
Such groups certainly didn’t offer to defend him or Dolce in 2015, when the designers gave an interview to the Italian magazine Panorama. In it, Dolce, a devout Catholic, said he would never be a parent because “you are born to a mother and a father — or at least that’s how it should be.” He doubled down, outright saying that he opposed gay adoptions and that children born via in-vitro fertilization were “synthetic.”
The duo’s pal Elton John, who has two sons with husband David Furnish, initiated a Twitter campaign against the brand. “How dare you refer to my beautiful children as ‘synthetic,’ ” he tweeted. “I shall never wear Dolce and Gabbana ever again. #BoycottDolceGabbana.”
Within days, producer Ryan Murphy (“American Horror Story,” “American Crime Story”), the father of two children with husband David Miller, also vowed to dump the designers.
Referring to women he knew who were using IVF, Murphy told the Hollywood Reporter, “I don’t think they’ll be traipsing off to a Dolce & Gabbana store to buy clothes anytime soon.”
More than 10,000 people signed an online petition calling for Macy’s and Debenhams to stop stocking the brand. “I didn’t put Dolce on any of my clients after that for at least a year,” one A-list Hollywood stylist told The Post. “It became a total red-carpet no-no.”
That changed in a few months later, when Dolce and Gabbana apologized. “I’ve done some soul-searching … I’ve realized that my words were inappropriate, and I apologize,” Dolce told Vogue.
It notably remains the one time so far that they have backed down from controversial statements.
Lately, Gabbana has found a new outlet for voicing his opinions: social media.
In April, when Vogue Brasil posted a happy-birthday tweet for Victoria Beckham, Gabbana replied with three thumbs-down emoji. Although Beckham was once a friend of the designers, the relationship seems to have soured after Gabbana’s glancing 2014 comment that “she’s a designer but . . . it’s different. John Galliano is a designer . . . Alexander McQueen.”
It seems the duo has also parted ways with Kate Moss, who has starred in Dolce & Gabbana ads. In June, Catwalk Italia posted to Instagram a photo of the model in Saint Laurent, asking its followers if the look was a hit or a miss. Gabbana’s take: a simple “No.”
And early this month, he posted the word “cheap” on a photo of Blonde Salad blogger Chiara Ferragni in her Dior wedding gown.
“There’s a lot of hostility towards women here,” said a buyer for a major retailer that has carried the brand for years.
But these aren’t just any women — they are ones with huge social-media followings. With 143 million followers, Gomez is in the top 10 most popular Instagram users. Beckham has 22.7 million followers; Ferragni 15 million.
“He wants the mantle of Instagram provocateur,” said one well-placed insider who labeled Gabbana a “full-on enfant terrible.”
Continuing with that streak, Gabbana is unafraid to defend an underdog — albeit one who is among the most high-profile women in the world.
While many fashion designers, including Tom Ford and Marc Jacobs, have publicly refused to dress Melania Trump, Gabbana has embraced the first lady.
She has worn the brand several times over the past two years, including for her official portrait and to the 2017 G-7 summit, when she donned a $51,000 Dolce & Gabbana jacket. She also wore a custom lace gown — which the designers dubbed “Melania” — for February’s Governors’ Ball.
Gabbana regularly posts messages of thanks under photos of her on Instagram accounts such as @Trumpadmin.daily.updates and @melaniatrump.style, along with multitudes of heart emojis.
This, too, has prompted cries of #BoycottDolceGabbana.
This summer, however, the designers had the last laugh, creating a $249 T-shirt that reads “#Boycott Dolce & Gabbana” and filming an ad featuring gorgeous young adults “protesting” the brand.
But after all the sound and fury, could this leopard-loving designer finally be changing his spots? A Sept. 10 post on Gabbana’s Instagram page reads, “Temporarily detoxing from Instagram.”
Three days later, he simply posted, “CLOSED.”
Insiders suspect that Gabbana is just taking a break until after this Sunday’s Milan show, and that he won’t be able to resist weighing in on something that tickles the devil on his shoulder.
As the former exec put it: “He’s always been a brat.”
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