There was a run on gold at Dolce Gabbana yesterday. It was everywhere: from the corsets to the coats, from the baroque heeled shoes to the glittering jewels, from the catwalk decorated with chandeliers and to the glinting highlights in the hair of front row superstar Dame Helen Mirren. It was a gilt edged treat.
The chandeliers were the first hint of what was to come. Bedecked with garlands of roses, they looked like they were taken from some fantasy fairytale castle. The inspiration was Capodimonte, the porcelain from Naples, that fills grandmothers' china cabinets everywhere, and after this, is likely to be up for consideration by a whole new generation. But while the innocence of those porcelain roses was reflected in liberal scatterings of flowers over 3D lace, picked out in embroideries and rendered in photo realist print, it was of course underpinned with liberal helpings of Dolce Gabbana's signature Sicilian sizzle in the corseted silhouettes and glimpses of underwear revealed through lace and tulle.
Dame Helen Mirren was welcomed to her front row seat with a round of enthusiastic applause from the audience. We may have missed the Oscars but the Dolce Gabbana boys made sure we got our fix with a proper big screen legend. Sitting beside Monica Belucci, the 67 year old actress stole the limelight in her curvy dress and lace opera coat. In the flurry of flashbulbs, one hack even mistook her for 28 year old Scarlett Johansson!
Backstage I asked her what made her a Dolce Gabbana fan. 'They make dresses that you feel good in. Quite simply, they fit. They understand boobs and hips. I love dressing up. There's a lot of Southend On Sea in me.'
The collection opened and was dominated with black looks. Lace shifts, coats with military swagger and swirling gold embroideries, corseted silk dresses with crinoline skirts: this was a collection that was big on costume drama. A flash of white in frilled tulle or a lace layer under a heavily embroidered black and gold cape, for example was like the froth on a strong cappuccino. And dresses rendered in needlepoint embroidery will surely have a lot of ladies re-evaluating another of their grandmother's favourites.
In a week where the catwalk mood has often been dark and foreboding, this was lavish and unashamedly luxurious and as uplifiting as its opera soundtrack.
By Paula Reed in Milan