Polished Posh in Portofino

Dolce & Gabbana´s Alta Moda and Sartoria Weekend

Alta Sartoria is the world’s most exclusive men’s luxury label. A blend of the smoothest Italian tailoring; military fantasy, playboy sophistication and Sicilian sizzle. It’s the brainchild of Dolce & Gabbana, and this weekend it staged its second ever runway show. The location was in Portofino, the scene was amid multiple parties and sun-drenched cruises.

Dolce ended up having a four day event – located around the pine-covered peninsula of this Ligurian magnet for the rich, where Domenico and Stefano own adjoining villas.

Portofino
Portofino
Riva run
Riva run

It began Thursday night with a private display of high-end jewelry – inside Gabbana’s seaside maison bourgeois. Guests could admire their bold selection – mini ceramic ballet dancers and some remarkable brooches and earrings – jeweled versions of oleander and bougainvillea, which flourish in abundance on Liguria’s rocky shoreline.

Most editors, though, spent Thursday in Rome at Valentino’s couture show near the Spanish Steps – showing up Friday evening in Portofino, for Dolce & Gabbana’s Alta Moda, their dramatic women’s couture collection, presented in the garden of Domenico’s ridge-top villa. A massive collection of 94 looks with a huge cast of characters – mad maharani; billionaire Geisha babes, rococo Tolstoyan merry widows. Given the new generation of couture clients this pair have collected – Indonesian socialites, Kazakhstan billionaire’s wives and oodles of Switzerland based tax exiles – all of whom wore dramatic Dolce couture, the rich cast of personalities made lots of sense.

Checking out the board
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Dolce
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Dolce

Saturday night was the turn of Alta Sartoria, where the husbands got to spend a little cash – actually make that a lot of cash. Kicked off with the first of several barnstorming sets by Palermo-based jazz band, The Ballroom Kings. The cast marched around a twisting catwalk in Castello Brown; a chunky stone tower from which one could admire the flotilla of massive yachts in the bay – enormous craft owned by the likes of Roman Abramovitch and Camilla El Fayed.

Domenico and Stefano worked the wardrobe from dawn to after midnight; with dramatic check silk dressing gowns and rippling Oriental caftans; to precise suits, finished with their signature seamed lapel and fabulous tuxedos finished with a phantasmagoria of blooming petals.

Sartoria
Sartoria
Sartoria
Sartoria

Refreshingly, everyone at the maison calls the founders and designers Domenico and Stefano, not Signors Dolce or Gabbana, the way they do in most other Italian houses. There’s a family mood about the place, heightened by the presence of actual family members. Domenico even took time to gently introduce his young niece and nephew, Saverio and Sara, children of his brother Alfonso, the previous evening at the Dante meets Shakespeare show on Friday.

The duo has also created a whole new audience of rich BRIC consumers, who revel in the thrill of attending a true blue couture show for men that later turns into a rockin’ party. A team of 30 dancers flown in from London grooved all night – the gals dressed in sequined flappers, the men as ballroom dancing stars.

Though one thing did make us gulp – our favorite coat. A totally genial slate gray reptile coat that turned out to be made of stamped seal. Cut with the precision of a Mayo Clinic brain surgeon, the coat made the model seem like a billionaire rock-star, causing fans to crane their necks for a better look. And one would need a billionaire’s bonus or a couple of hit tours to help pay for the coat. It costs a lung-tightening 195,000 euros.

Sartorial
Sartorial

“You know we have two types of clients. We have the gentleman who wants one of our classic suits, and the other wants fantasy. And the funny thing is; it’s often the same guy!” hooted Stefano, a carnation in his hair, as the gents fired up large Havana cigars on the outside balcony.

Stefano's wee yacht
Stefano’s wee yacht