Dolce and Gabbana’s barbed attack on Victoria Beckham was a stab in the very slender back of their friend and former muse. But then the Tweedledum and Tweedledee of Italian fashion are known for their studded jeans and citrusy perfumes, not their diplomacy.
“For us, she don’t make like a fashion designer. She became one after many, many, many different things”, Stefano Gabbana exclaimed at an event in London before Domenico Dolce relegated her to high street status (yuck!) in a way that was not very dolce: “Victoria Beckham, Zara, H&M.”
Beckham did indeed spend the nineties and earlier part of this century trotting between the realms of pop stardom and being a stripy-haired footballer’s wife, but she has worked hard to ensure those “many, many, many different things” are forgotten now that she has become a designer of High Fashion.
Coming from a country that is magnificently resistant to change (Più le cose cambiano, Più rimango uguali), D&G are suspicious of the chameleon-like qualities of their buddy. Gone is the buxom party girl they used to pour into their slinky lace gowns and go clubbing with when she was their brand ambassador back in 2003. She’s ditched the bronzer, deflated her bosom and gone all minimalist. She has four kids, her husband has retired and she probably actually pays her taxes. How pedestrian. How boring. The pared-down silhouettes and monotone palettes typical of her brand might arouse a collective “oooh” from the fashion crowd, but D, and I’m pretty sure G too, miss the old Victoria. The Victoria who once indulged in their sexy southern European garb before her look became so Nordic and conservative.
The question of who is allowed to call themself a designer is, for better or worse, irrelevant in an age of clever celebrity branding and Beckham remains victorious in the game. She has curated an expensive label with a strong aesthetic that women want to buy and wear. The fact that she undoubtedly has people on her team who know a lot more about stitching fabric together than she does hasn’t hindered her.
What a slap in the face for the Italians. A man of the cloth is only slightly more venerable than a man who knows how to sew it in a country where fashion is the most lucrative remaining artisan industry. According to legend, Domenico Dolce, the son of a Sicilian tailor, was stitching together his own trousers by the age of six.
That’s like Mozart being outdone by … well, a Spice girl.