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Dolce & Gabbana’s Domenico Dolce on Life in Coronavirus Lockdown: “Isolation Is Bringing Us Together”

Dolce & Gabbana’s Domenico Dolce on Life in Coronavirus Lockdown: “Isolation Is Bringing Us Together”

At this exact moment in the coronavirus crisis, we are lucky here in Milan. That’s because the weather today is beautiful. So we can open the windows, or go on the balcony to see the sky and feel the sun. When it’s like this in the lockdown it is possible to find yourself a better mood. It lifts your spirits.

I am following the rules and spending most of my time here in the apartment. I am with Guilherme, my boyfriend. Of course every day I am with my family, and Stefano, and all the people I love, but it’s on FaceTime. This is an extension of our culture and even though we cannot meet in person, the meetings we do have feel stronger now somehow. My parents handed the ritual of Sunday lunch down to me, to sit with everyone for lunch and then to all wash the dishes together and talk through our problems and our hopes, and this is something we are doing today, but in a different way.

Even if I’m spending most of my time at home now, I am a worker, and I am not stopping my routine. I am always up by 7 am. Because if you change your routine, ciao. Yesterday I cleaned all the kitchen very well, although—and this is very embarrassing—I cannot work my washing machine! I always have to FaceTime my niece, Giusi, for the technical information! So I wake up, have a coffee, make sure everything is tidy, fold the blankets on the sofa, clean the carpet: It’s about respect.

If I must go to work, I get the certificate and go, carefully. When I cross Viale Piave [where Dolce & Gabbana is headquartered] and I see people on the street now we keep our distance—social distancing has completely changed the brain when it comes to kissing someone, ciao, ciao—but there is no frustration or hostility. Two weeks ago people weren’t smiling so much on the street, but now when I see people they smile.

I’m very worried, and sometimes I feel panic, and that’s normal. I’m human. We are trying to be positive and help in any way we can. Back in February before fashion week, me and Stefano decided that Dolce & Gabbana would fund a research project into the coronavirus at the Humanitas University here in Milan. We hope that it is progressing. The epidemiologists will only talk about it if and when they make progress because they do not want to create an illusion, or talk for nothing. I would love it if tomorrow is better. But today, it’s like a big war. We need to look after humanity first, lives and dignity.

I pray to my Virgin and my Jesus because I am Catholic, and I hope for a miracle. I look at all the news and sometimes it is exhausting, but it is also inspiring. For me the nurses and the doctors are our heroes—these are the people we should celebrate and admire. Not celebrities or influencers or whatever. And even though this experience is terrible, we are lucky to be going through it in Italy. Even while the hospitals are overwhelmingly busy, their doors are open to everybody—we are all entitled to medical care here.

We hope our experience can help other countries, because we were the first country in the West to face this problem that is coming to everyone. But right now is unbelievable. Even two weeks ago nobody here imagined the situation would be like this. Nobody here conceived it could be.

What we understand now is that when nature decides to do something like this there is only so much we can do to stop it. Human tools like technology and our financial systems that give us the illusion of control can only help to an extent. What was impossible became possible, and then probable, and then real. And it all happened very fast. It feels like we are in a disaster movie sometimes. But I think what has changed could change our values, too. To help us live in a more balanced way, and focus on making things better for the young, and for the future. I think everybody is using the time we have on lockdown to think and reflect.

Some things make me feel very much, very deep: When I see the videos of the people all singing together from their balconies, singing opera, singing Azzurro, singing the old Italian songs, I cry. Because in isolation we are coming together. Singing these songs at the moment is instinctive, it’s like a resistance, a partisan defense of the identity of the country and the soul of the people. I’ve been crying every day! And Guilherme looks at me like I am a crazy Italian. But it makes me so happy—and now I am crying again—to see the people here connect in this powerful way. We are Italian. We love life. We are generous. We are together. We have a good heart, a big heart. And the spirit of this is not racist or classist or divisive, it is for everyone. For me, I understand la Belleza d’Italia—the beauty of Italy—even more than I did before and I think this phenomenon is helping the young generation feel it too. Maybe this is the right moment to reset l’Italia.

At this moment of danger I think we Italians are rediscovering our sense of Italianity. That the value of life lies in the family and our human relationships, and our ability to help each other, and to be good to each other. When there is sun, and family, you can look ahead with hope. So that is how it is for us to be here right now in Milano, at least for today. Please look after yourselves and your family! Wash your hands, and be careful!