Can the super-rich save fashion (at the risk of being ...

Lifestyle

Can the super-rich save fashion (at the risk of being unfashionable)?

While some houses downplay luxury credentials, Dolce & Gabbana seems to be betting on the elite

Lisa Armstrong

I had my doubts about the wisdom of travelling to a fashion show while pandemic rules still apply. Having my temperature taken when I arrived in Florence, the ubiquity of face masks on the streets, even though it’s not mandatory, and the lack of bustle of those streets – actually that bit was magical – was a reminder of how spooked the once-carefree Italians have become.

I know some consider fashion shows inappropriate in the current climate. I agree that the proliferation of fashion weeks in the past decade is a zero-sum game – the more of them there are, the less they register. But I don’t believe it’s necessary to turn our backs on all that’s lovely to demonstrate our empathy with the suffering of others, or to comply with some killjoy definition of what is and isn’t strictly necessary. These lists are always highly subjective, in any case.

What isn’t subjective are the 50,000 small and medium-sized artisanal businesses in Italy. Many are family run, with generations of highly specialised knowledge and talent, whether it’s leather pleating, buckles or the hand embroideries and smocking I saw in Loretta Caponi, an-only-in-Florence nightgown and bathrobe kind of shop I fell into (you should have seen the frescoes on its ceilings and the bolts of woven fabrics and metallics). You’d have tumbled in too. This shop, it turns out, has dressed royalty and has fabrics in its archives that date back more than a century and has also adapted to the modern era, turning those exquisite nighties into dress collections for the likes of Matches Fashion...

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