Even though their long-term romantic relationship ended a few years ago, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana still do everything together: work, vacation (as a foursome, with their boyfriends), and take business trips. “We still have the big love,” Gabbana says, in his broken, effusive, and surprisingly expressive English. They are both incredibly charming.
It’s unusual to see them in New York—there’s so much world to see, after all. Dolce is recently enchanted by Russia. (“Not Communists,” he specifies, “just Russian people. Eighty years completely closed, and I said, ‘Why so skinny?’ No food.”) Gabbana is Rajasthan-bound. They did spend five chilly days here recently, at the Carlyle, from which they seriously considered investigating “this Brooklyn” they’d heard so much about. (Never happened.) They also supervised their next ad campaign, shot at Chelsea Piers by Steven Meisel; escorted “Miss Jennifer Lopez” to a black-tie party; celebrated Gabbana’s 42nd birthday with dinner at Bette; and went on a quick inspirational store tour.
“Eighty percent of the job is talk,” says Dolce over lunch at Pastis. He’s the shorter of the two, with a bald head and a full palette of hammy, comic facial expressions. “Him, he always is dreaming.” He rolls his eyes elaborately and frets that Gabbana has ordered chicken. “What about the bird flu?” he worries. He chooses an omelette instead.
“He is the tailor,” Gabbana continues. “It is my job to give the dream!” He pauses, then adds his favorite proclamation. “We groove!” A text message from “Lovely Liz!” Hurley distracts him. Dolce leans across the table, conspiratorially. “We don’t groove,” he whispers sadly.
Time to shop: They both love to shop, particularly for vintage; it inspires their lacy dresses as much as their low-rise jeans. Their Town Car whisks them to What Goes Around Comes Around, on West Broadway. It’s supposed to be a spontaneous drop-in, but the staff is in a receiving line. The duo is used to this. “In Italy,” Gabbana explains, “we are so famous.”
But faced with stack upon stack of soft faded denim, both men go silent and robotic. They hold up each pair, inspect the seams, pass it along. One picks a motorcycle jacket for the other to see. They communicate in a series of squints, nods, and sentence fragments: “We love Pollock,” for paint-splattered jeans; “We love with the holes,” for another pair; and, several times, “We love the motorcycle.”
Next, it’s across the street to their own store—not exactly a trend hunt, but the staff is mutely delighted. Gabbana proudly shows a sheer pink top that’s on the cover of Madonna’s new album. A fan who has spotted them from across the street runs through the door wanting hugs.
“When you wake up and make clothes, you don’t change the day,” Dolce sums up, as he heads to his car. “But you help.”