Remember when we thought a campaign couldn't get more physically or visually crowded than Dolce & Gabbana's fall 2015 ads? It turns out the Italian brand isn't finished playing with jam-packed imagery — this time with the elaborate storefront sets seen on its spring 2016 runway, instead of plain white backgrounds. The new summer 2016 campaign celebrates all things Italian (yet again) by enlisting a crew of selfie-taking young models in front of a small village cafe. The photographs are bursting with the brand's signature kitschy mix of colors, patterns and textures — as thoroughly Italian as the checked tablecloths, fruit stalls and ivy-covered windows that surround them.
The sets and smartphones aren't the only elements lifted from the brand's September runway show: D&G again cast models of Asian descent as Chinese tourists, who are seen throughout the images reading Sicilian travel books, taking selfies with "locals" as they are so described on the brand's Facebook and carrying shopping bags.
And while the runway show provided a more superficial view of Asian visitors, the campaign takes a somewhat better approach. Asian models aren't dressed exclusively in chinoiserie or cheongsam-inspired pieces, as they were on the women's runway (and, more often than not, on the men's one). Nor are they the only models accessorized with cameras or taking pictures with a gladiator street performer — whose presence is a smart nod to the fact that the Italian culture so glorified by Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana isn't immune to its own stereotypical commodification.
Still, Chinese tourists to Italy are big business for the luxury brand, and it's debatable whether this is the best way to appeal to them. Does depicting them as outsiders help, or does it create more distance if these foreign shoppers are attracted more to the brand's take on Italian culture than the brand's take on theirs? Maybe the designers are counting on the magic of "The Secret:" the more Chinese models it photographs holding shopping bags, the more tourists will buy.
See the Dolce & Gabbana summer 2016 campaign below and the rest of the spring 2016 campaigns right here.