Friday, February 19, 2010

Dolce & Gabanna Go Live With iPhone

The Wall Street Journal

Fashion designer Stefano Gabbana bought an iPhone eight months ago, and it's been a love affair ever since. Now he and his business partner Domenico Dolce are expected to announce Friday that their fashion company, Dolce & Gabbana, will livestream its Milan fashion shows on iPhones.

"This opportunity with the iPhone is so important for us," said Mr. Gabbana in an interview. "If you are sitting outside during lunch and you want to watch the fashion…it's very democratic, I think." The shows will also be live-streamed on the Web during Milan Fashion Week, which starts Feb. 25, but BlackBerry users are out of luck. "Maybe in the future," said Mr. Gabbana, who used to carry a BlackBerry, but got an iPhone after relentless pestering by his nephew.

It wasn't so long ago that fashion houses found technology as exciting as filing taxes. So while you can download full episodes of "Mad Men," availability of runway shows online is still scattershot, and more often than not posted days after the event. Only a year ago many in the fashion industry were shocked by the notion of opening their highly exclusive events to the rest of the world in real time.

One year and several successful fashion blogs later that reluctance is fading fast. Labels have been using video, blogs and Twitter to deliver images from their shows. Rodarte, Burberry Prorsum, Alexander McQueen and other brands have livestreamed their fashion shows onto the Web recently.

In September, Dolce & Gabbana, known for its provocative advertising and dramatic looks, invited three bloggers into the front rows of its shows for both its primary Dolce & Gabbana and secondary D&G line. The bloggers were launched to fashion-world fame; the one known as BryanBoy, whose real name is Bryan Grey-Yambao, was a fixture at New York Fashion Week shows this week as he blogged, partied and traded interviews with fellow blogger Tavi Gevinson. Both are also featured in this month's Vogue magazine.

Mr. Gabbana, who also tweets (@stefanogabbana), says he sees all this as experimenting, and doesn't really have a specific goal in mind, such as attracting new customers. "We make a lot of money. I'm rich. Man, I know what I am. But we started this job because we love fashion. Now we have the same approach. We have a fascination with the new technology."

Portending what may come next, the Italian fashion mogul is hoping to be one of the first to get Apple's latest device, the iPad.