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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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Dolce said the idea for doing these pieces came about two years ago during a conversation with Isabella Rossellini, who was complaining about the exposure a dress would get even before it was ever worn. “It should be a surprise, what a woman wears to a party or an event,” Dolce said. “So often dresses have been photographed or seen on the runway and it’s no longer a surprise, just a product.”

Ironically, product is exactly what Dolce and Gabbana want the focus to be in the rest of the store. Adjustable recess and spot-lighting tracks highlight the clothes, which are segmented into different categories, such as basics and tailored clothing.

“The most important thing about this store is the product,” Dolce said. “We had a little difficulty with the architects on that point, but we didn’t care, this was our store.”

They worked with a series of architects, including David Chipperfield, interior designer Feruccio Laviani and lighting specialist Arnold Chan of Studio Isometrix, to complete the store.

The designers started envisioning the project almost three years ago when they got the lease to the current palazzo, which was once owned by the Innocenti family, makers of the Mini Cooper in Italy during the Fifties and Sixties. The palazzo’s original pine, brass and frosted-glass doors were kept as part of the store’s interior.

Work got under way over the past year, yet instead of putting up an Under Construction sign, the duo smartly filled the front space of the palazzo with two separate stores — selling their accessories and vintage collections — while Chipperfield and his team excavated the back of the building. Their original women’s store will now be devoted to their accessories collections, while the new flagship will have a corner devoted to the vintage line.

The designers declined to give the cost of the project; however Dolce & Gabbana’s director of general affairs Cristiana Ruella has said in the past that the company spends an average of 651 euros, or about $788 at current exchange, for every square foot. With that calculation, the new store would run around 7.7 million euros, or $9.3 million. Yet, the designers would be the first to point out that this is not an average store. “It didn’t have a budget,” Dolce said.
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