Madonna is mentioned by the Milanese fashion duo in a new interview published yesterday by Italian daily Corriere Della Sera's weekly supplement SETTE, as they recall how their friendship came about at the beginning of the 90s and how much she was instrumental in putting them on the map, globally.
Do you owe your big breakthrough to Madonna?
STEFANO GABBANA Yes. To her. She has helped us to become who we are today.
DOMENICO DOLCE We had all her records. We had gone to see her perform in Torino and other locations. We would say to each other: just imagine if one day she chose to wear one of our creations? Three months later we saw a picture of her published on The Herald Tribune. She was at a Jean Paul Gaultier party in Paris wearing a black crochet sweater inspired by Italian’s southern tradition. We couldn’t believe it
Did you then try to contact her?
GABBANA She came to us. We had a little room in New York we would use as a PR office which a Vietnamese boy was in charge of. Madonna’s assistant got in touch and said she was going to appear at the premiere of her film Truth or Dare and that she would have loved a bodice encrusted with coloured stones, a man’s jacket and thigh-highs. She showed up at the New York Truth or Dare event and the next thing you know she was featured on every single major international publication, next to a photo of one of our catwalk shows. That shot of hers was literally everywhere globally.
DOLCE Then the movie came out and one of our friends who works as a restorer at the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art called us to let us know that in the American trailer of the movie there was a scene in which a beaming Madonna says something like: “ See I get what I want *snaps finger*, I wanted a Dolce and Gabbana shirt and Warren immediately got it for me”. We just couldn’t believe it. We thought he was pulling a prank on us. When the movie opened in Milan we were the last to go and watch it, frightened at the idea that they were all in fact just poking fun
But that line was actually there ...
DOLCE Yes and it just so happened that after months of seeing her wearing our clothes we finally asked her out for dinner.
Who made the phone call? Stefano or Domenico?
DOLCE No we just wrote to her. What we actually did was to dictate a letter to somebody who then translated it for us. What kind of language could have we used on the phone? At least when you’re physically with the person you can overcome the language barrier through hand gestures, but on the phone?
Finally dinner in New York ….
GABBANA Restaurant on the 17th between 7th and 8th. I was sweating badly due to the emotional situation. My idol! Luckily you could still smoke in restaurants back then and I smoked a cigarette after the other
DOLCE To start off she subjected us to the Proust Questionnaire. She wanted to know everything about us. She was instantly crazy for us and we were immediately crazy for her. We ended up on the dance floor and then we went to her apartment
How did you communicate with her?
DOLCE Gesticulating. But she does speak a little bit of Italian, luckily. She loves Neorealism and she is used to watching the old films in the original language. Visconti, Pasolini, Rossellini. She just knows everything. She’s such an extraordinary woman. Still to this very day, after all these years, you just can’t help but feel in awe of her presence. She’s a type of person you constantly find yourself learning new things from.
She is shrewd, cultured and she knows everything about Italy. She is very Italian. But when it comes to business she’s American to the marrow. She ‘s got such a drive and an incredible determination. She was born three days apart from me in August 1958, has sold 300m albums, she’s had everything from life, yet when you see her rehearse a dance routine with her choreographer, she’s just there listening, paying attention, obeying and staying in line like a disciplined student. Humble. Terrific.
How is she as a client?
GABBANA The ideal client. Very clear ideas.
If she wants something she will also specify the colour tonality.