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Dolce & Gabbana’s Fairy-Tale Flagship

With their sprawling new women’s flagship in Milan, Dolce and Gabbana are unveiling a new retail concept and embracing a kind of egalitarian luxe.

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But, while the store looks like two units on the outside, on the inside, silver escalators seamlessly connect the horseshoe-shaped store.

Whether entering from the right or the left, once in the back of the store, four escalators ferry customers back and forth. The massive structure, 20 feet at its tallest, dips into a well, where a dual-sided, cinema-size, flat-screen television framed in black glass is suspended from the ceiling.

On one side of the escalators is a long gallery stocked with accessories, while the other, its symmetrical equivalent, is dedicated to sweaters and T-shirts.

“It’s really like a small department store,” Dolce said.

To that end, the designers dedicated certain areas to specific clothing segments and for the first time are filling fixtures with three sizes of every garment. “We like this idea of luxury, but quick luxury, because no one has time to spare,” Dolce said. “We didn’t want anymore to have just one item out on the floor. We don’t want customers to have to wait for the sales clerk to go to storage. This way, it’s out, she sees it, she tries it and it’s done.”

Of course, if a customer wants to shop leisurely, that’s an option, as well.

Pulling from their men’s store one door down on Corso Venezia, the designers have set up a smaller version of the martini bar within the new store, while throughout the shop, S-shaped black velvet divans weave in and out.

Then there’s the VIP room. Covered by a suggestive black velvet curtain, special customers can enter the space and select one-of-a-kind pieces tucked behind leopard-and-gold-covered doors. Created by the designers, the one-off dresses, furs or even embroidered jeans sell for between $1,200 and $120,000. They are not part of the collections and are not shown on the runway.

Meanwhile, nestled in the back of the VIP room is yet an even more exclusive area, for the truly select few. There, a customer will find only a handful of garments.

“It’s really couture,” Gabbana said. “Actually, it’s more than couture because these clothes are the truest sense of exclusivity.”
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