Dolce & Gabbana know what’s wrong with the fashion industry. They proved it to us back in February when they let millennial models take center stage in Milan. Rather than mounting a spectacular show designed to wow audiences in-person and across social media, these two designers embraced the word “viral” and focused their attention on Vine and Instagram stars. It was the perfect way to grab the attention of a younger generation left relatively unclaimed by the fashion world. Aside from a few mega-stars like the Hadid sisters and Kendall Jenner, runways in the age of technology have lost their mystery. Now that everyone can watch these once elitist events, the question isn’t about getting people to look as much as it is about getting them to stay, click, and dig further. Here’s how the Fall 2017 Dolce & Gabbana fashion show strove to connect with a wider, younger audience.
FANS INSTEAD OF AN AUDIENCE
Social media stars are a new breed of celebrity. Their chief talent is being attractive and thinking up entertaining things to post. Silly as that sounds, it attracts thousands of young followers who make up a valuable market to tap into. The genius of Dolce & Gabbana was that dared to shed spectacle to reach out to these pockets of the internet. By inviting some of the most popular young stars of Instagram and Vine, they cracked the code. The Fall 2017 Dolce & Gabbana fashion show was all about building a loyal consumer base rather than merely impressing a vast audience.
GIVING HIGH-END DESIGN A PLAYFUL EDGE
Recognizing the merit of social media celebrities would have been savvy enough, but Dolce & Gabbana didn’t stop there. At their women’s show, they displayed an excellent understanding of how to reinvent playful outfits for the runway. Looks like this leopard-inspired hoodie took products like the Snuggie and onesie costumes and turned them into fashionable attire. It’s out there but you can see yourself wearing it. Again, D&G understood that spectacle fostered a more dedicated following if it catered to prevailing trends. Basically, this is how you make customization work without stripping the designer of their individuality.
CRAFTING A FAMILY RUNWAY
Family fashion shoots have been a celebrity pastime since the 70s, but rarely did you see an entire clan walking the runway together. In another break with tradition, the Fall 2017 Dolce & Gabbana fashion show made families a key part of their model parade. This was a new way to engage younger audiences in more than elaborate spectacle. Putting children on the runway allowed a new generation to better imagine themselves on the runway. By honing in on the experiential aspect of their show, D&G made the whole thing feel a little more human.
DIVERSITY AND ACCEPTANCE
Ironically, age was one of the most notable elements of the Fall 2017 Dolce & Gabbana fashion show because it didn’t play much of a role in the casting. Including families on the runway didn’t simply mean including younger models. Mothers and fathers took part too. In retrospect, D&G may have assembled one of the world’ most diverse group of models for their Milan runway. If you think about it, that’s a brilliant way to demonstrate that your clothes are designed to complement anyone.
We’re a few months removed from D&G’s Milan show, but the issues they addressed in their casting are still alive and need to be addressed. Hopefully, the brand’s interest in expanding the fashion conversation to make it more interesting and inclusive will be remembered even more than the fresh florals and bright-colored pantsuits in their 2017-2018 collection. It’s time to find a place for people of all ethnicities, ages, shapes, and genders on the runway. With strong voices like these leading the charge, perhaps change isn’t too far off.
— Timothy Vest