It seemed like something of a moment when the experimental label PH5 became fashion’s first to create its very own CGI model and ambassador, which starred in its New York Fashion Week presentation. Two weeks later, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana went several steps further in replacing man with machine. While the cast that walked Dolce & Gabanna’s fall 2021 runway on Monday was made up of mostly humans, it unmistakably included a number of iCub and R1 multifunctional humanoid robots.
These bots were the real deal. The Italian designers collaborated with Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, a Genoa-based scientific research center that specializes in artificial intelligence and “service robotics.” With a little coding, researchers made the bots capable of generating some of the collection’s whopping 135 looks. Others simply glided down the runway, laden with chains, purses, and pearls.
Robotics bled into the show’s aesthetic, too. The designers gave in to the enduring demand for throwbacks to the house’s ’90s era, and sometimes explicitly; one slogan tee said, simply, “90’s.” As for the more contemporary touches, a number of the humans were draped in clear PVC. It’s a reminder of D&G’s past with Aqua, the group that famously proclaimed “life in plastic, it’s fantastic,” though in the present, it may call to mind PPE.