During the final days of Milan Fashion Week, famed Italian fashion house Dolce & Gabbana made headlines after debuting an unorthodox 130-look collection that seemed to target a young teenage audience.
Two days prior to the show, on February 24, Dolce & Gabbana released via Twitter (@dolcegabbana) a complete list of all those who would walk the cheetah print runway in Milan on the 26th. Among those mentioned were several non-models, including blogger Aimee Song, singers Stormi Bree and Madison Beer, as well as the children of some high-profile celebrities.
Destry Allyn Spielberg (daughter of Steven Speilberg), Renee Stewart (daugther of Rachel Hunter and Rod Stewart), Rafferty Law (son of Jude), Corinne Foxx (daughter of Jamie) and Gabriel-Kane Day-Lewis (son of Daniel), all walked the D&G runway, according to W Magazine, as did Sailor Brinkley-Cook (daughter of Christie Brinkley) and Sofia Richie (daughter of Lionel).
Other notable walkers according to W included Lady Kitty Spencer, niece of the late Princess Diana, and Jennifer Tilly, the 58-year-old Academy Award-nominated actress best known as “The Bride of Chucky.”
Social media influencers such as Vine star Lele Pons and YouTubers Juanpa Zurita and Marcus Butler also took to the D&G runway.
Among legitimate models who walked were French beauty Thylane Blondeau, runway regular Lucky Blue Smith and Vogue cover star Vittoria Ceretti, while “teen idol Austin Mahone provided the soundtrack,” according to Vogue.
When questioned about the unconventional lineup, which featured men and women of all shapes, sizes and ethnic backgrounds, co-founder Stefano Gabbana cited the brand’s first show, in which friends of the designers walked the runway because D&G could not yet afford models, according to The Telegraph.
“The character of people is the important thing to us,” Gabbana told Vogue.
“We’ve had an attraction to this from the very beginning—our first show in the mid-1980s was on real people. The message is: You need to accept yourself as you are. That’s it!”
Despite this seemingly thoughtful and good-spirited sentiment, many high fashion fans took to social media to criticize the brand’s choices.
Twitter user @miuyorker writes, “Does D&G not know that 11-13 year olds won’t be purchasing? I’m just confused,” while @onlythemodels captions a series of three images, “HOW has Dolce & Gabbana become this… I want to cry… This is so tragic.”
Both tweets suggest the 32-year-old Italian fashion house traded its innovation, craftsmanship and ultimately its art in order to appeal to a younger fan base. While many brands–both high-end and low-end–have done this, it seems strange in the case of the former because, as @miuyorker states, teens and pre-teens cannot typically afford these clothes.
So, has Dolce & Gabbana traded sales and esteem for likes on Instagram and views on Snapchat? The t-shirt featuring Justin Bieber’s screen-printed face that reads “King” begs a yes.