MILAN, ITALY [JANUARY 17, 2015] – Dolce & Gabbana could hardly have anticipated the past few weeks, but fashion has an odd way of dovetailing with current events, and the message of love that drove the designers’ latest collection couldn’t have been timelier. Love, family, community—the eternal verities that offer security when the foundations are kicked out from under us.

The curtains opened on eight real families in a tableau vivant, friends and colleagues of the designers’, from grandmothers to babies, adding a new spin to the idea of DNA that people are always paying lip service to in fashion. The images on the clothing featured other families, from Renaissance renditions of the Nativity to naive cartoons of the classic nuclear mum, dad, and two kids. The model casting was cross-generational as well. “Fashion’s a family too,” said Gabbana, and the sense of continuity carried over into the collection. “This is a fashion show without fashion,” he added. Maybe he meant that, rather than anything new, there was instead the reassurance of the familiar: a three-piece suit in black brocade, some artfully distressed denim, an embroidered sweatshirt, a graphic tee. There was comfort, too, in tweeds, jersey pants, pajamas, lounge suits, rubber Wellington boots, and shoes that looked like a sophisticated take on pony-skin clogs. Even the most ornate pieces—bullion-braided, extravagantly embroidered—touched on the notion of family. The bees and the crowns could have been old family crests. And everywhere there were the appliqués: “Amore,” “Famiglia,” “Love Forever.”

A caveat: In this celebration of family, the diversity of its modern variants was distinctly absent. Gabbana insisted that he and Dolce stood for that modern family, which felt a bit like a dodge. Better, perhaps, to see the collection—and the show—as the designers’ homage to the traditions that have been their own safe haven. Love isn’t all you need, but it’s a helluva help.

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