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Côte Couture: inside Dolce and Gabbana’s Portofino villa

Nadja Beschetnikova
April 12, 2018

Liguria is one of Italy’s smallest regions, a narrow ribbon of the coast and deep green mountains that curves between Tuscany and France’s Côte d’Azur. It’s a hot favorite for second homes, attracting weekenders from Milan and Turin as well as foreign tourists. And Portofino, a former fishing village, is definitely on of the highlights and celebrity hotspot on the Italian Riviera.

Portofino was made a legend in the 1950s and ‘60s when the likes of Elizabeth Taylor, Ingrid Bergman, Ernest Hemingway, Frank Sinatra, Maria Callas, Cary Grant and Brigitte Bardot made it into a playground for the rich and famous.

Italian luxury fashion house, Dolce & Gabbana, are known for taking inspiration from cinematic history (one of their earlier collections was an homage to filmmaker Luchino Visconti and his film The Leopard), and Italian divas of the 50s-60s.   

«My style icons are great divas and actors – Sophia Loren, Anna Magnani, Monica Vitti, Claudia Cardinale – who embody the la dolce vita spirit. Then there are the fashionable men – of them all, Marcello Mastroianni was the most elegant,» said Stefano Gabbana in an interview.

So it’s natural that Dolce & Gabbana were attracted by the picturesque landscapes and legendary heritage of the region. And, though they initially had no intention of acquiring a home in Portofino,
the previous owner insisted the designers were the only two people who should live in the house after her.

Dolce & Gabbana, who celebrate womanhood in their works and state that European culture is a matriarchy, apparently couldn’t say «no» to a lady.

At that time, the designers had just completed work on their new house near Monte Carlo, but they were forced to deal with renovation again. It was quite unusual, but designers, known for their luxuriant lavish aesthetic, hired David Chipperfield, the famed British architect known for his minimalism, to re-design the interiors. The result was a compromise between tiled walls and loads of sumptuous décor.

When it comes to furniture, Dolce & Gabbana’s Portofino home reflect their “maximalist” vision. Designer’s extravagant taste comes to its peak in the bedroom. The spacious room boasts the gold-tiled walls, which are simply jawbreaking.

Blue floral wallpaper in the airy living room perfectly matches the lush mountainside garden, adorned with flower arches and statues of mythological figures. 

Small wonder, that this gorgeous environment served not only as a summer retreat but as a location for one of the brand’s fashion show.

Dolce & Gabbana’s Alta Moda collections are especially characterized by designer’s predilections for arts and visual representation of Italian culture. The Alta Moda events are spectacles that allow the designers to invite a select few, to be immersed in a collection.

In 2015, the collection was inspired by Homer, Dante, and by the 1999 film version of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream,’ filmed in Portofino. So, it was obvious, there’s no better location to showcase it than designers’ villa, perched on a mountain cliff near the harbor.

About 300 guests were invited to the exclusive four-day event, which began with the unveiling of designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana’s haute jewelry collection, Alta Gioielleria. That was followed by the women's couture line, Alta Moda, the next evening and the men's line, Alta Sartoria, the third day. To emphasize the Italian bohemian-inspired spirit of the collection, designer used the materials, that are sourced in Italy and hand-sewn by Italian artisans.

On the evening, the guests enjoyed a fine dinner, served on the terrace overlooking the bay, while classic operas played in the background. In a small cave, Domenico Dolce stood in front of the bar temporarily set up there, and handed the guests champagne personally.

Gold rim plates, gold rim glasses, fresh fish, fresh pasta, wine, champagne, fantastic atmosphere - what else do you need to get into the spirit of Dolce (and Gabbana) vita.

The Italian designers have worked together for 34 years and were a romantic couple for 23 years before their 2005 split. They held their first solo womenswear show in 1986. Designers were the first to discover the market relevance of bloggers and caused quite a commotion at their prêt-à-porter show in Milan a few years ago, when they put the influencer in the front row and put some self-confident print editors in the back. Dolce & Gabbana net worth is estimated at $5.3 billion, it’s one of the most influential and powerful fashion labels in the world.