There are few things less certain in fashion than a Dolce & Gabbana show black lace, vibrant colour, opulence, craftsmanship, immaculate tailoring, costume jewellery, magnificent heels, classical music, a whiff of Sicily, beautiful women
The show, on a cold, wet Sunday afternoon in Milan is like a salve for the senses, a soothing antidote before the last mad scrabble of shows, everyone gearing up to jet back to London on the fashion bus, a pit-stop before the collections start in Paris.
But as soon as the music starts up and the first model steps out in this case, sporting a lavishly bejewelled and mosaicked dress, gold shoes, gold chandelier earrings and gold crown on her head the audience is transported to wherever Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana choose to take us.
This time it was Santa Maria Nuova, the Norman cathedral in Monreale, Sicily, where a series of golden mosaics almost entirely cover its interior. They were here, too, on dresses with full sleeves, shoes, bags and jewels. One such dress, sleeved and cut sharp on the thigh, was decorated with jewels the size of large buttons. Another long version depicted a mosaic of a saint with a golden halo. One short coat simply glittered in gold.
Then came Karlie Kloss in a saint-mosaic pencil skirt and a black lace top, black bra beneath, and the signature Dolce tailoring started to emerge. Charcoal herringbone was their fabric of choice this season, elegantly tailored and reminiscent of the late 1940s and early 1950s that is to say, demure, womanly and crisply cut, with simple car coats, nipped-waist jackets (sometimes worn with herringbone knickers) and polite skirt suits. Then it was on to the Sicilian widows sophisticated black lace for after dark. These quieter pieces were pepped up with the labels framed granny bags and quite the most spectacular footwear, from giant wedges embellished with mosaics of Saint Agatha, stones and gold filigree, to smart baby-kitten heels.
As ever, with Dolce & Gabbana, they saw the show out with a grand finale. This time, in papal crimson, and with golden crucifix necklaces; a reminder of Pope Benedicts resignation which, alongside todays election, is dominating the news here in Italy. The final round of scarlet, encrusted in ruby-red crystal was indeed heavenly