DINNER WITH DOLCE AND GABBANA
The design duo throw an Italian-style feast for London’s It girls.
Photographer: Terry Richardson
Hair:Malcom Edwards Female Models
Hair & Gents Grooming;
Make Up Artist:Lucia Pica
Stylist: Andrew Richardson
Set Design:Andy Hillman
Amber le Bon
Florence Brundell Bruce
Oliver Cohen Jackson
Iconic Italian director Federico Fellini once memorably summarized his country’s culture, saying, “Life is a combination of magic and pasta.” The adage certainly applies to the lives of Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, and also this season, to their work. Dolce & Gabbana’s charming spring collection was inspired by the very Italian tradition of the family feast. Chili peppers, eggplant, and zucchini made for mouthwatering prints on flirty apron dresses; vampy bodysuits looked more tempting than homemade gelato; and, much to the amusement of accessories editors around the world, bejeweled earrings and bracelets were embellished with pasta noodles. “The dinner party is such an important part of our real lives,” Stefano explains about the inspiration. Domenico says that it’s not uncommon for him to cook for 18 people on a Sunday, boiling gallons of water for “buckets of pasta.” “Do you have any idea how much spaghetti you need for 18 Italians?”
Some of the pair’s most fabulous home-cooked meals? There was the time Domenico surprised Stefano with a 33rd-birthday fete that ended with a private Grace Jones concert, and a smaller dinner party where Christina Aguilera serenaded Domenico with “Happy Birthday” at his apartment in Milan. I ask if Aguilera’s spontaneous performance would qualify as the multi-Grammy winner’s “singing for her supper,” as the American saying goes. Domenico shakes his head and smiles. “No, it was just dessert.” Last winter, they organized a Christmas feast for more than two dozen friends; the meal’s finale occurred when the overdressed Italian fashion editor and blogger bait Anna Dello Russo wheeled out two giant cakes in the shape of the designers done up like Roman gods. “I tasted delicious,” Stefano deadpans.
Of course, the dinner party is a social ritual, but according to the designers, who met in 1982 at a nightclub and founded their fashion empire three years later, it’s also about appeasing appetites. Domenico is the one who cooks. He picked up a few tips from his mother as a young boy growing up near Palermo, but when he moved away for school, he taught himself. “I take my time and plan a menu,” he says. “It helps me relax. Cooking is like therapy.” Stefano chirps in, “And for me, eating is like therapy.” (Stefano offers one recipe, however: Leftover pasta tastes fabulous fried the next day with olive oil and seasonings. He says it’s the perfect hangover cure.)
The Dolce and Gabbana aesthetic is steeped in indulgence: in sequins and sex, and definitely in food. That’s why the two are drawn to seriously sultry actresses like Scarlett Johansson, the face of their beauty line since it began in 2009, and the latest campaign girl, Felicity Jones. “These two have breasts, hips, a waist, and lips…Italy!” Stefano shouts.
According to those who have dined with the duo, it’s not until after a carb-fueled meal that the real fun kicks in. Stories from Dolce and Gabbana dining experiences are legendary. One of Stefano’s most memorable happened last summer, when stylist Charlotte Stockdale sent him sumo-wrestling fat suits. Following lunch and under the direction of house model turned fashion editor Giovanna Battaglia, Stefano and friends climbed into the costumes and learned the choreography to Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies.” (Stefano, quite an active tweeter, posted a video on his account soon after the performance. “That’s me in the middle, of course,” he points out.) At other get-togethers, Linda Evangelista and Naomi Campbell have been known to provide runway lessons. Eva Herzigova, a longtime friend of the designers, fondly recalls a dinner party at their vacation house in Portofino that ended with an impromptu Mario Testino shoot featuring Stefano in a pair of Dolce & Gabbana stilettos.
Today, Herzigova is one of the guests of honor at a dinner party in London that Domenico and Stefano organized especially for Bazaar, as seen through the eyes of photographer Terry Richardson. In traditional Italian style, the red wine is flowing, the pasta is overflowing, and, at one point, the designers find themselves in the kitchen making pizzas. Stefano planned the day’s soundtrack, an old-school mix of big-band classics including “Mambo Italiano,” the anthem at the spring show. But the sounds heard most often are shouts of “Bellissima!” and “Bella!”
In the midst of it all, we find the designers egging the girls to kick up their skirts and get on the tables. Pixie Geldof and Eliza Doolittle happily oblige, as Mary Charteris gamely taps their bottoms, to the delight of Bryan Ferry’s sons Isaac, Tara, and Otis, and former boy bander Gary Barlow. Stefano asks Herzigova to dance and, showing off a skill that can be acquired only with years of practice, twirls his partner while balancing a wineglass in one hand and a bottle in the other.
The sun sets, and it seems that their lovely lunch is turning into a debauched dinner. “You know it’s getting a little naughty when Terry says to tone it down,” laughs Geldof, who at another point made the suggestion, “I think everyone should just make out.” No one batted an eyelash. Just another Dolce and Gabbana banquet.