Ciao, Kim and Goodbye, D&G‘s History of Problematic Behavior?
Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana share a fondness for celebrities, much like other fashion houses do in the current era. However, their collaboration for the Spring Summer 2023 collection was no ordinary one. Speculations had been circulating within the fashion industry, and at Milan Fashion Week, Dolce & Gabbana officially confirmed during a press conference that their entire spring 2023 collection was created in collaboration with none other than Kim Kardashian.
Consequently, the fashion show showcased a departure from the brand’s customary vibrant designs, which often draw inspiration from floral or mosaic patterns of the Renaissance. Instead, the models graced the runway predominantly adorned in opulent black and white dresses. The primary inspiration behind this collection was lingerie, featuring second-skin dresses, jumpsuits, stretch fabrics, corsets, and visible bras. These iconic pieces of the brand were reimagined under Kim’s watchful eye. It came as quite a surprise, as lingerie appears to be a particular interest for Kardashian.
The connection between the Kardashians and Dolce & Gabbana had already begun in May, when the brand dressed the entire Kardashian family for Kourtney Kardashian’s wedding to drummer Travis Barker. However, this collaboration was far from a foregone conclusion. Only four years ago, Stefano Gabbana, the more outspoken half of the designer duo, referred to the Kardashians as “the cheapest people in the world” in a now-deleted Instagram comment.
Hence, the question arises: Why would the esteemed Italian fashion house seek someone like Kim Kardashian? Or to put it differently, why would a superstar of Kardashian’s stature support designers who have fallen out of favor in recent years? Has she forgotten about the controversies surrounding Dolce & Gabbana or chosen to overlook them for the sake of an alleged million-dollar deal? Kim Kardashian has often voiced her frustrations about not being taken seriously in the fashion industry for many years, merely being seen as a reality TV starlet. She was banned from attending the Met Gala, the premier fashion event of the year, until only a few years ago (some suggest since her marriage to rapper Kanye West). Consequently, Kardashian can no longer be excluded from the forefront of the fashion scene.
Hence, the answer to why Dolce x Kim came to fruition is quite simple: Dolce & Gabbana are seeking to benefit from the Kardashian sparkle. It is a well-known fact that whatever the Kardashians touch usually turns to gold, and Dolce & Gabbana can undoubtedly utilize that golden touch at this juncture, given their declining business. This is especially relevant due to Gabbana’s controversial tweets and Instagram posts, such as his derogatory comment referring to singer Selena Gomez as “so ugly” on Instagram. Moreover, Dolce sparked outrage in 2015 when he expressed his opposition to adoption by same-sex couples in an interview, going so far as to label children born through in vitro fertilization as “synthetic” and “chemical offspring from a rented uterus.” It is worth noting that the Kardashians themselves have several children carried by surrogate mothers.
In 2017, the designer duo garnered negative attention for publicly supporting Melania Trump. Dolce & Gabbana responded swiftly with a rather tasteless campaign, which ironically served as a self-boycott. As an example, they sold T-shirts bearing the slogan “#Boycott D&G” for approximately 250 francs, intended to mock their critics.
But back to the collection:
Designers Dolce and Gabbana presented their spring/summer 2023 collection curated by Kardashian against the backdrop of a film showing Kardashian, styled as a starlet, sensually eating a plate of pasta.
The designers have a soft spot for women indulging in pasta—a timely reminder of the disastrous backlash they faced in 2018 when Dolce & Gabbana became embroiled in a racism scandal. The fashion house had planned their grandest fashion show to date in Shanghai, aiming to conquer the lucrative Chinese market. Vogue even referred to it as an “ode to China.” However, the show had to be abruptly canceled due to a series of promotional videos titled “How to eat with chopsticks,” released by the brand to commemorate the occasion. These videos depicted an Asian model awkwardly attempting to eat Italian dishes like spaghetti and pizza with chopsticks, accompanied by condescending remarks in Chinese from an off-camera male voice. The campaign was widely interpreted as racist and faced severe criticism on social media. In response to one Instagram user’s criticism, Gabbana sent a private message in which he referred to China as a “shithole country” and described the Chinese as “ignorant, dirty stinking mafia.” Although Gabbana later claimed that his Instagram account had been hacked and the designers issued apologies for their “transgressions,” they were compelled to cancel the fashion show, partly because prominent Chinese film stars and models refused to participate.
Hence, one may wonder if the SS23 collection, or the marketing stunt itself, was borne out of sheer desperation. However, Dolce & Gabbana and Kim Kardashian evidently aim to refute such a notion. They underscore the longstanding connection between the star and the fashion label, highlighting that Kim had always admired her mother’s Dolce & Gabbana dresses even during her childhood, and several of her family dogs were named after the renowned designers.
Despite celebrities like Cardi B and Jennifer Lopez continuing to wear the brand’s attire on red carpets since the scandal, the expected hype surrounding Dolce & Gabbana failed to materialize, and many celebrities still steer clear of association with the brand. Consequently, Kim Kardashian’s decision to join forces with the embattled company has faced substantial criticism on social media. Perhaps it is not driven by desperation but rather empathy. Kim herself has faced severe criticism for her own ventures, most notably the “kimono” incident.
Nevertheless, one thing is certain: it’s definitely not a case of “Ciao, Kim” and a farewell to D&C’s history of problematic behavior.