From leopard underwear to the black corset sheath, Dolce & Gabbana has been known for flash and fetishism since bursting onto the international scene in the late eighties. It's no wonder pop princesses Kylie Minogue and Beyoncé wear Dolce & Gabbana on and off the stage and Madonna enlisted the boys to design more than 1,500 costumes for her 1993 Girlie Show Tour. But that Italian va-va-voom has always been underpinned by immaculate tailoring, and over the last couple of seasons, the duo has been intent on revealing a more sophisticated soul.
Co-founders Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana met in Milan in 1980 while working for the designer Giorgio Correggiari. Dolce, the son of a Sicilian tailor, had attended fashion school briefly, while Gabbana, the son of a Milanese factory worker, had trained as a graphic designer. Combining Dolce's tailoring chops with Gabbana's eye for outré styling, the men teamed up (in both personal and professional lives), debuting their first collection to critical acclaim in 1986. The label has been expanding ever since, with knits, swimwear, lingerie, fragrance, accessories, menswear, a junior line, and the youthful, lower-priced D&G all in the mix.
Though Dolce and Gabbana parted ways as a couple in 2003, they continue to work side by side as business partners. And they continue to extend their reach—now branching out into "lifestyle" enterprises, including a restaurant called Gold that opened in 2006 and a theater and event space called Metropol, in their home city of Milan.