‘WE NEED DIVERSITY WITHIN DIVERSITY, OR ANY CHANGE WILL START TO FEEL HOLLOW’
Ahighlight of my summer came when I found myself sitting on the shores of Lake Como, watching in wonderment as Dolce & Gabbana’s latest Alta Moda presentation unfolded in Tremezzina’s Teresio Olivelli botanical park. The sun was setting as the models descended from a grand double staircase and wove their way through an expectant Dolce & Gabbana-clad audience.
The outfits were a fantastical ode to Lake Como, as well as the literary works of Italian author Alessandro Manzoni, whom Stefano Gabbana refers to as “our Shakespeare”. The Alta Moda presentation is part of a four-day extravaganza set in some of the country’s most picturesque surroundings, where top clients and a handful of international press converge to witness the Italian design duo’s decidedly Italian version of haute couture. The clothes were undeniably beautiful – from the expansive, 18th-century-inspired gowns to the slimfitting frock suits and feather-trimmed ka ans – but another thing that stood out about the show was the diverse representation of womanhood that Dolce and Gabbana chose to send down the runway.
On the one hand, you had the 70-year-old Maye Musk, who apart from being the mother of Elon, elegantly proves that beauty doesn’t have an age limit. On the other hand, you had a radiant Halima Aden modelling a voluminous tiger-print ka an and matching headwrap, while plus-size model of the moment Ashley Graham stepped out in all-black. Socialites shared space with members of the British aristocracy, clients were transformed into models, and all skin shades were celebrated.
The main event was Naomi Campbell, who sashayed around the park looking almost exactly as she did in her 1990s heyday, a knowing smile playing on her lips. She was joined by Eva Herzigová, who is now 45, and Helena Christensen, who is nudging 50.
The fashion industry has o en come under fire for promoting very narrow ideals of beauty – for a long time, unless you were young, tall, incredibly slender and white, you were unlikely to find much success as a model. Dolce & Gabbana’s Alta Moda runway was a refreshing sign that the paradigm has shi ed, even if just slightly. As someone whose shape has always been more on the Ashley Graham than the Ashley Olsen end of the scale, I know that seeing a person that you can relate to, on a runway or on the cover of a magazine, can be incredibly powerful.
This changing mindset is one reason that Niko, the model whom we were lucky enough to work with for this month’s fashion shoot, is enjoying such success. The stunning British-Sudanese model is on a dizzying ascent, and is working with some of the best photographers in the world, including Juergen Teller, Tim Walker, Harley Weir, Rankin and even David Sims. Niko has seen the industry evolve dramatically over the last few years, she says.
What’s important is that things don’t become tokenistic. Halima Aden cannot be the only famous hijabi model; Ashley Graham cannot be the only prominent plus-size model; and Maye Musk cannot be the only grey-haired model. We need diversity within that diversity, or any change will start to feel hollow. Selina Denman, editor TRENDING • Dolce & Gabbana sends saris down the runway • Merchant of Venice scents in Murano glass • Dubai’s Dh20 million Polo Homes • Marie Antoinette jewels at auction For more stories like this, visit www.thenational.ae/lifestyle
LUXURY IS ... JOYOUS “Luxury is something extraordinary that has to give you joy and pleasure; it is something very intimate” Alessandro Bogliolo, CEO, Tiffany & Co, page 32
ON SET A five-hour drive from Casablanca, the Moroccan city of Chefchaouen, where we shot this month’s fashion editorial, is known for its striking blue-washed buildings; page 36
STARRING Chinese-American artist and entrepreneur Jonathan Koon is the founder of clothing labels Private Stock and Haculla, and believes in keeping his designs highly curated; page 24