A client’s tall comb and mantilla blend in with the centrepiece.
This past weekend, the Italian fashion house Dolce & Gabbana staged a multi-day extravaganza to début its latest Alta Moda line—over-the-top, one-off sartorial creations that are presented biannually in a series of lavish runway shows and then readily snapped up by attending members of the international monied set. Since the first collection was introduced, in 2012, Alta Moda events have taken place mostly in Italy. (In 2015, Rebecca Mead wrote about a Dante-, Homer-, and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”-themed iteration in Portofino.) This time, the designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana decided to stage the festivities in New York, where they were joined by hundreds of clients—from such places as the Middle East, South America, Russia, and, perhaps most prominently, China—who were prepared to spend a king’s ransom for a piece of Dolce & Gabbana’s sequin-encrusted fantasy.
The celebration began on Friday, with a presentation of Alta Gioielleria, or fine jewelry, at the main branch of the New York Public Library, a collection which included a large diamond-and-emerald lapel pin in the shape of a dollar sign. Guests decked out in dramatic headpieces and glittery bustiers dined on roast veal and risotto Milanese, and sat for a charity auction led by Sarah Jessica Parker, who modelled the gem-studded earrings, bracelet, and necklace that were up for grabs. After a slightly frenzied bidding war, those items were snagged for a little over half a million dollars by the Newport Beach, California-based entrepreneur Rob Arnott, who bought the wares for his blonde, tiara-wearing wife, Marina—a purchase that they sealed with a vigorous kiss for the cameras.
The spectacle continued on Saturday with a show of menswear, or Alta Sartoria, at the Rainbow Room, featuring a performance by Liza Minnelli. At Sunday’s grand finale, a presentation of the women’s Alta Moda collection at the Metropolitan Opera, models including Karlie Kloss, who opened the show in the guise of a plumed bird, with a flame-colored feathered dress and a towering headpiece, sported garments that were said to be inspired by the “energy” of New York. The New Yorker staff photographer Pari Dukovic was there to capture candid moments from the Alta Gioielleria and the Alta Moda presentation, which included a spectacular display of fireworks around the Lincoln Center fountain and a dinner on the Met opera stage amid the set of Franco Zeffirelli’s production of “Turandot.” What these photos reveal is a world of opulence beyond opulence, where no material desire is too far-fetched, and where guests who own a thick slice of the world’s pie can feel right at home with their equally deep-pocketed peers.