With more Milan brands in the midst of major overhauls than not, it pays to be Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana. With nearly 40 years of experience, they don’t just know who they are and what they stand for, they’re good at executing it. Indeed, they’ve been at it long enough to witness their early designs being collected as vintage.

Over the last couple of years, they’ve embarked on a project of sharpening their own signatures. At one recent show they even sent out clothes with labels bearing the original year and season they came down the runway. They’ve never shied away from repetition, but lately they’ve pursued it and made it a virtue. “It’s by perfecting essential pieces that we have created our personal and recognizable style,” the press notes stated.

For fall, they chose the tuxedo as their subject. It’s “the ultimate symbol of pure style,” they explained. “The simpler a piece, a classic like the tuxedo, the more perfect it is, eternal, free from the constraints of time.” A Spencer jacket with pick-stitched satin revers, over a lacy camisole and briefs and a wisp of a skirt tied with a big ribbon bow, opened the show. From there, they experimented with different hem lengths in single- and double-breasted styles, tweaking the lapels’ widths and notch heights accordingly. Where one tux was boxy and oversized, another was nipped in the waist with padded hips for an hourglass-y shape.

Rounding out the show were boudoir-ish peignoirs, sometimes accented with satin lapels of their own or accessorized with a hand-pleated cummerbund; lacy cocktail dresses and stretchy crystal-strewn ones; and bold statement coats in shaggy faux fur, leopard spots, or feathers. But the tux was the thing. It was a showcase for the designers’ famous sartorial exactitude, and a lesson for the many less experienced designers currently trying to make their mark in Milan. To achieve Dolce & Gabbana’s kind of longevity, it pays to have a clear, unique point of view.

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