The good thing about luring - pardon, inviting - millennials to your fashion show is that they are too young and inexperienced to immediately spot connections with past fashion trends and designs, so whatever they see may look intriguing and instantly Instragrammable.
So it happens that, if you're Dolce & Gabbana, you can do a big minestrone of all sorts of inspirations, borrowed from your own archives and from somebody else's and continuously recombine them without many people sitting in your front row noticing.
Let's look for example at D&G's S/S 18 collection: showcased on Sunday during Milan Fashion Week (if you don't count the pop-up show at La Rinascente on Thursday and the secret show on Saturday night for the wealthy clientele, that is socialites and celebrity kids; maybe one day they will start doing a show for the disenfranchised as well...), the collection combined a series of themes, ideas and inspirations in a big cauldron, minestrone style.
On the runway there were designs inspired by the colours and tropes of Sicily; T-shirts hinting at the beauty of amore (love), lingerie-exposing sensual black dresses integrating tight corsets and finally religion (well, as we saw in a recent post, this is probably the only "safe from copyright issues" inspiration out there, so you can understand why they keep on using it) with designs featuring images of the Virgin Mary or prints of heart shaped ex-votos (yes, we know what you're thinking, no, not again...).
Then came another big inspiration with food prints: one skirt featured reinvented "Amore" soups reminiscent of Andy Warhol's famous Campbell Soup cans; a dress featured instead a box of some kind of edible product called "Bellezza" that called to mind instead Warhol's Brillo Boxes.
The first of these two ensembles was also matched with automotive accessories - that is a car necklace, bracelets, earrings and headpiece.
Having created my own toy car necklace eight years ago, I must admit that I feel quite chuffed at the reference, but I still prefer my own design because it is made with real toy cars and it is more colourful, but I'm pleased D&G discovered the automotive trend and I wish them good luck with it.
The food inspiration then developed further with prints of biscuits and Sicilian cannoli and Italian pastries (the latter also replicated three-dimensionally on bags and purses), plus fruit and vegetables.
Cabbages, carrots and peas were printed on long ethereal dresses or embroidered in sequins on large bags you may use to go to the market (in one case they came up with a crocheted net bag for "cipolle" - "onions"). Vegetables were also employed for extravagant necklaces and earrings.
Historically speaking, the vegetable theme appeared around the late '30s with Elsa Schiaparelli who created necklaces with porcelain vegetables and peas-in-a-pod brooches and designed a jacket featuring carrot-shaped buttons. As you may remember, the theme was borrowed back by house for its Haute Couture S/S 16 collection.
Around the mid-'50s Ken Scott, also known as "the gardener of fashion" (he loved to grow what he painted and often featured on his fabrics vegetables and flowers...), used vegetables for his Falconetto interior design pieces. Scott relaunched such prints in the later decades, adapting them in his fashion designs. One of his most famous print from the '70s shows bright green peas in a pod on a white background.
On D&G's runway there was a print of green peas on a white background and on a pink background as well. The latter seemed to be a reference to another Ken Scott gown that appeared in a 1970 Vogue Italia photoshoot and that featured a green dress with a print of oversized strawberries (oversized strawberries were instead tranformed into earrings on D&G's runway).
The Ken Scott connection was also clear in the designs with floral and fish prints; one of the vegetable dresses was also accessorised with glasses reminiscent of the iconic Jeremy Scott for Linda Farrow "Hand" sunglasses.
The Alice in Wonderland poker card looks have to be analysed from another and wider perspective in connection with other designers.
D&G stated they had interpreted the cards from the "Queen of Hearts" theme, so in connection with love, beauty and sensual women.
But playing cards have been a strong inspiration in fashion, so this wasn't certainly very innovative idea: Ungaro did dresses and shirts in the '80s with poker cards; Moschino rediscovered the inspiration in the '90s with bomber jackets and bags for the Moschino Jeans line.
Ashish returned to the gambling theme in 2009, while Moschino played another round of cards in the house's men's S/S 12 collection. So, poker cards have always been in fashion, in a way they may be considered a very banal idea that can lead to intriguing results especially when it comes to separates or accessories, though, unfortunately this wasn't always the case.
There was indeed an emphasis on intricately embroidered and elaborately embellished pieces that look striking on the runway, but impractical in real life.
In many ways it felt as if this minestrone had just one main ingredient, Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa's final message in The Leopard - that is revolutionising everything to maintain the status quo (in the polite and politically correct language that Vogue may use it is called "maintaining the brand's heritage"...).
Translated in less convoluted language this means aiming at a younger consumers (having alienated all the others especially after wider debates such as dressing and admiring Melania Trump earlier this year...), without changing really much, but by overembellishing things.
Ah, as usual, a final note: if you fancy jumping on the poker bandwagon but you're looking for something cheaper, well, as you know, there's always Aliexpress. Designers have been using it for quite a while to get ideas and inspirations, so it is maybe about time you started using it as well.