The Dolce&Gabbana Alta Moda presentation in July was exceptionally exclusive with only a hand full of press were invited. The ones who got a look in were mesmerized, and it seems that Hamish Bowles the European editor-at-large for the American edition of Vogue has been totally conquered especially when it comes to describe the romantic beauty of Portofino bay. Find below...
"After Rome the fashion caravanserai moved on to Portofino, jewel of the Italian Riviera, where Stefano Gabbana and Domenico Dolce have long owned handsome properties on the steep hillside promontory that lies beyond the picture-postcard harbor with its ocher, terra-cotta, and bottle green houses. In its bay the floating palaces of the improbably rich sat dwarfing the cocoa-brown sails of the Agneta, the beautiful lacquered-wood boat once owned by Gianni Agnelli and evocative of the era when another generation’s jet set—Maria Callas, Rita Hayworth, the Richard Burtons and Rex Harrisons, among them—flocked here for the charm, the food, the nightlife, and the balmy waters.
Stefano and Domenico had planned a crowded weekend to enchant and entertain their deep-pocketed, fun-loving clients and showcase their fine jewelry, Alta Moda, and Alta Sartoria collections.
The whimsical jewels had been presented in a green-and-white striped tented pavilion in the grounds of Stefano’s property, with its intriguing tower of a house, the evening before I arrived, so I headed directly to Domenico’s quirky turn-of-the-century manse cresting the hill on Friday evening, where A Midsummer Night’s Dream fantasia played out in the verdant gardens, shaded by umbrella pines. An honor guard of medieval pageboys raised flowered hoops as arriving guests passed under them, and comely silver-clad nymphs scattered rose petals hither and yon. Meanwhile feather-winged acrobats contorted through hoops suspended between the trees, looking like Maxfield Parrish paintings against the setting Italian Riviera sun. It was an enchanting vision and set the scene for the Shakespearean romance of the collection (reviewed by Sarah Mower).
After the show, guests were bidden to dine at tables lit by golden palm tree lamps (the logistics alone were dizzying; it is a steep, 20-minute workout to climb the labyrinthine paths up to the property and nary a donkey in sight. The ladies who obstinately ignored the memo to wear flats for the hike might have been regretting it by the end).
Dinner over, the music started, revelers danced on tables, and Anna Dello Russo stripped to her Dolce bra and girdle to boogie the night away as an ice cream fight threatened her bejeweled frock.
The following evening we trekked once more, this time to Castello Brown, with its amazing medieval frescoes and staircase walls covered in glazed Sevillian tiles. The exterior of the storied castle was bedecked with snowflake-shaped white-washed wooden decorations studded with bright-colored light bulbs traditionally used in Sicily and Italy’s south for party decorations, lending it a delightful old-fashioned fairground air. On the terrace guests crowded around the snaking red carpeted runway, and a swing band and its singers played and crooned evocative mid-century tunes as a battalion of absurdly good-looking men paraded the immensely covetable Dolce finery that included lavishly hand-embroidered honeycomb cotton bathrobes and matching beach bags that could be customized with the name of your boat. Oh, to be an oligarch.
The revels continued, the classic Euro hits of summer ringing through the village, now prettily garlanded with ropes of lights.
Sunday was a day to rest in readiness for the midnight gold-themed party in nearby Santa Margherita that night.
The popup Dolce shop in the village square—artfully stocked with a plethora of gilded frocks—had been doing a roaring trade all weekend, and as guests gathered on the corniche as they waited for the Rivas to arrive and carry them across the water, the effect of all those spangles sparkling in the light of the crescent moon was unforgettable.
There was a Gatsby flavor to the arrival at the storied nightclub, famed playground of café society from the mid-century on, that is set into the rocks, like a mermaid’s cavern.
The glittering scene on the terraces proved that art-directing your guests is a powerful concept: The effect was sensational.
A bevy of frantic dancing flappers heralded the surprise arrival of Kylie Minogue, in a quivering headdress of golden stars and a molten sequin cape that she soon shrugged off to reveal the wispy nothing beneath as she worked her endearing way through some of her upbeat classics.
Then fireworks lit the night sky as Pavarotti bellowed “Nessun Dorma” in one of his famed recordings before revelers returned to the dance floor to twirl the night away.
Spaghetti was served at around four in the morning, and the last stragglers limped home near dawn. I should know: I was one of them. ( Vogue)
Photos Credits: Vogue US