You can wear your favourite designer’s fragrance and makeup every day, splurge on their shoes and a handbag each season and if you are lucky enough to afford it, indulge in the clothing.
And in the fashion capital of Milan you can eat, drink and dance with your favourite designer brand.
Hotels, restaurants, bars and cafés bearing the names of some of the world’s most recognizable fashion names are popping up across the city.
Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana opened a restaurant and bar called Gold in the fall, joining Giorgio Armani who already had a café, restaurant, bookstore and a nightclub called Privé, housed in his mega Armani store on Via Manzoni. The complex is rumoured to be the site of an upcoming Armani hotel.
Roberto Cavalli has added a café to his empire. The Bulgari Hotel now has a restaurant and the Gucci girl can sit in the café outside her favourite store in the imposing Galleria Vittorio Emmanuelle II to people watch or steel her nerves before plunking down a credit card for the latest “It” bag.
Designers have full control on casting the perfect people to personify their image at their runway shows and in ad campaigns.
But when the clothes are available for sale to anyone, sometimes the image gets skewed.
A tour of some of these designer venues during the fall 2007 collections in Milan this week found the same principle applies to their brand extensions.
First stop on Saturday night was Gold, the restaurant, bistro and bar by Dolce & Gabbana.
One would think it would be the perfect brand extension for the designers of a super sexy label who appear to love the nightlife.
But after passing the large gold ingot sign outside the door, any lustre from the metal furnishings was dimmed by the unseductive lighting and the pedestrian crowd.
The bistro is swanky enough, with sculptural chandeliers and metal shutters, but in the bar area exposed brick walls and bright lights seemed to dull the effect of the decorative gold prisms lining the shelves and the bar.
“If the Dolce customer came here looking for some excitement, they would be disappointed,” said Ian Hylton, a Toronto expat who now works in China for Ports International as VP of design for its menswear division.
In the bar area, everyone was clustered in the smoking area – a glass enclosed chamber in the back. The music was far from inspiring and it was hard to look sexy holding a drink served in a ridiculously large glass.
And where were the stylish, sexy, feline Dolce & Gabbana fans? Except for the model-handsome bartenders, the crowd was all tight jeans and little tops that wouldn’t pass muster for the lower-priced D&G line.
The experience was far from the image the duo sells, especially after seeing the spectacular window display at the flagship store or the scintillating photo feature in this month’s W magazine. It features both designers, buffed, and dressed provocatively and posing suggestively with nearly naked models.
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