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Dolce & Gabbana celebrates motherhood at Milan fashion week

Mother’s Day is in May in Italy but it came early this year. Dolce Gabbana’s autumn/winter collection at Milan fashion week on Sunday afternoon was called “Viva la mamma”. It was a celebration of mothers everywhere.

As with all shows from the brand, the clue came with the invitation, which featured drawings by children dedicated to their mums with messages such as “ti amo mama” (I love you, mum) scrawled in sweet, wobbly handwriting. The theme was then underlined by the tableau at the back of the catwalk – it featured grownup models along with babies, toddlers and children.

All dressed in Dolce, the scene was like a live, art-directed family portrait. This show was evolved from the menswear equivalent in January, which was dedicated to family and had particularly photogenic ones – from grandmothers to children – as the tableau. Both shows came with Twitter hashtags to increase the social media presence of such snap-able images, this time #DGmamma.

Designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana like to take a theme and run with it. One model was six months’ pregnant, three carried babies and a little girl walked down the catwalk – all to the applause of the front row, accompanied by the warbling of the Spice Girls’ 1996 hit Mama.

This theme had an effect on the actual clothes too. Sweaters and dresses featured similar scrawled messages rendered in sequins, and a mother-and-child print and a later section of the show used drawings the designers did as children as prints on pretty silk dresses. Other parts of the collection deviated from the theme and included jewelled headphones – likely to become a highly prized accessory of the young and rich next season.

Playing with symbols of femininity, brand classics were all present: wiggle dresses with elbow-length sleeves and rose prints, pencil-skirt suits, embellished doctor bags, lingerie-inspired lace and the influence of the early-60s silhouette. The mix of the wholesomeness of family with a healthy dollop of sexy is a trademark of this quintessentially Italian brand that turns 20 in October.

Dolce Gabbana are in the top 10 most successful Italian brands according to a study last month. The research, conducted by Mediobanca, surveyed 135 fashion companies. It suggests that a lot of this success is down to exports – the brand is available to buy in 40 countries and 79% of sales in 2013 came from overseas. Universal themes such as family will only help that cause – they translate into any language. Including children in this womenswear show also translates well to social media.

It’s also smart business: a savvy way to showcase the Dolce Gabbana Junior line, launched in 2012. The childrenswear market is estimated to be worth £5.6bn in the UK and is predicted to grow. The talk on the front row on Sunday was centred around Peter Dundass’ probable exit from Pucci, where he has been creative director since 2009.

The Pucci Saturday night show was a fairly typical glamorous display with op art prints, 70s shapes and jetset-worthy wafty dresses – all the things Dundas has done so successfully – worn by supermodels including Eva Herzigova, Karie Kloss, Joan Smalls and Natasha Poly.

Dundas took his bow at the end with his design team, a sign that this was a swansong. While the rumours have yet to be confirmed, it has been suggested that he will move to Roberto Cavalli, where Dundas began his designing career. Marco Zanini, who quit Schiaparelli in November after only two couture collections, has been suggested to take over at Pucci. Milan fashion week continues on Monday when an announcement is expected.

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