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    The magic behind Dolce & Gabbana’s Milan exhibition according to its curator, Florence Müller

    Ivan Allegranti

    Running until the end of July, From the Heart to the Hands is a love letter to Italian craftsmanship

    Within the walls of the Palazzo Reale in Milan, Italy, a new exhibition has the city buzzing. The impressive From the Heart to the Hands: Dolce & Gabbana exhibit is the brainchild of the design duo and has been expertly curated by the renowned Florence Müller. Running until July 31st, the exhibition allows visitors to take a deep dive into the world of Alta Moda, Alta Sartoria, and Alta Gioielleria – the pinnacle of Dolce & Gabbana’s fashion artistry.

    These three lines debuted at the 2012 Taormina fashion show, and continue to represent the brand’s creative zenith. Through these collections, the designers express both their hearts’ desires – dreamy journeys inspired by Italian beauty (think La Scala’s grandeur, the opulent setting of Visconti’s The Leopard in Palazzo Gangi). They also showcase the meticulous craftsmanship that Dolce & Gabbana’s Alta Moda Milanese ateliers are famous for.

    The exhibition unfolds across ten themed rooms, each with its own captivating vision. Sections include Handmade, The Art and Craft of Glassworking, The Leopard, and Sicilian Traditions – all of them beautifully presenting the essence and many facets of the Dolce & Gabbana universe. We sat down with Müller to gain deeper insights into the design choices behind the exhibition and the message she wanted to convey.

    A showcase of Dolce&Gabbana's theatrical looks. Image: Supplied

    How did you approach the curation of the exhibition with the House’s immense archive? And which were the key elements of their vision you wanted to highlight?

    First of all, I immersed myself in the numerous books published for each collection, books that narrate the sources of inspiration and the history of each place where the collection is shown. I made a preliminary list from which
    I determined the different themes of the exhibition, according to the principle that these must reflect what is most characteristic of the brand identity of Dolce & Gabbana. 

    Then I saw the dresses up close, and was able to observe how they are made, the details of the cut and the ornaments. I then visited the workshops, to be able to highlight the “handmade’’ know-how. Afterwards, I had numerous discussions with the designers to better understand the intentions behind each collection and each look. 

    All of these eventually aided in building the final list of more than 200 complete looks, as well as the Alta Gioielleria pieces and accessories. The building up of the scenography occurred in collaboration with the Agence Galuchat and the designers.

    The staging is based on the relationships tied to the stories of each section. Most of the time, it shows authentic pieces like the Barbini mirrors and Barovier chandeliers from the archives of these ancient companies based in Murano, or special creations like the Orsoni mosaics, the painted panels by Sicilian artists Salvatore Sapeinza and Gianfranco Fiore. 

    Dolce & Gabbana’s Sicily-inspired Majolica print. Image: Supplied

    What should visitors focus on in each of the rooms?

    Visitors should first be carried away in a reverie, because the world of Dolce & Gabbana is the reign of fantasy. Then, they should carefully look at every aspect of the pieces on display and discover the hand-made details. It is a privilege for visitors of this exhibition to have close access to creations that are otherwise reserved for clients of the couture house. 

    How did you select the themes that are integral to the Dolce & Gabbana brand showcased in the exhibition? 

    The themes that were chosen are based on what is most dear to their hearts, and, in particular, the inspirations which run through several collections – such as baroque, opera or cinema – as well as broader references drawn from Italian culture, painting, architecture and sculpture.

    How did you blend creativity and methodical precision in your curatorial process for the exhibit? 

    I focus my attention on what is specific to the history of the fashion house, what is unique, and what deeply defines it. 

    With this project, I had the chance to work with living designers who are founders and owners of the house, which meant I had first-hand information that I was able to translate into the curation. 

    I obviously did my research on the history of Italian art, but it was also a subject that I already knew well, having spent a lot of my free time in the museums and monuments of the peninsula.

    In the details: the pieces showcase true craftsmanship. Image: Supplied

    Which room and topic was the most challenging to represent in the exhibit?

    The challenge lay in having a large list of possibilities, each one more beautiful than the other. It was tough to reduce the items so that everything corresponded logically to the space of each room.

    Do you have a favourite piece from the exhibition?

    I particularly like the ball gown, which evokes the character of Angelica in the film The Leopard, one of the designers’ favourite movies. 

    With its cheetah decoration, it recalls the theme of the tile floor of the Palazzo Gangi in Palermo, where Luchino Visconti’s masterpiece was filmed in 1963. This dress reflects the romanticism of the film, and also the capacity of humans to transcend reality through beauty.

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