“Dressed up like a million dollar trooper / Trying hard to look like Gary Cooper. Puttin’ on the ritz.” Irving Berlin’s lyric, played as we trooped out of this 28-minute, 130-ish-look show, was a fitting full stop for a collection that leant lovingly on a 100-year-old paradigm of masculine elegance.

That paradigm—an elegant, tailored, 20th-century perhaps-gentleman of leisure—came sometimes heavily accented by Dolce & Gabbana’s own heritage of menswear expression. So there was a section of wide-wale corduroy suiting teamed with flat caps and brown leather outerwear that harked back to the label’s earliest Sicilian-inspired collections. And the eye-melting section—actually, there were two of these sections—that pulsed with metallic brocade and jacquard suiting whose patterns were taken from the decorative Byzantine frescoes in Venice, Rome, and Monreale was very D&G.

A great deal of this collection, however, bore a less heavily stamped house signature and instead took time to explore, luxuriate in, and subtly update archetypical tropes of masculine dressing from the interwar years. The whole vibe was back-to-analog. At the end of the stage, company tailoring workers gave fittings and made alterations. A finely spoken English master of ceremonies provided a running commentary of each section—sometimes reverting to serviceable Italian—just as you imagine the first menswear shows at Pitti in the 1950s would have been narrated on the newsreels.

Opening black and white sections presented a distinctly late-1920s to 1930s silhouette of strong shouldered short jackets and straight-legged wide pants, which were updated—and slightly 1990s-ified—via a heavy break at the leg. A passing cluster of heavily pomaded models in silk pajama suits printed with fountain pens or umbrellas (which along with ornately handled swagger sticks featured heavily as accessories) presented the notion of this man as a collector and aesthete. A new D&G logo in Art Deco font that resembled the personal monogram of some Rockefeller or Mellon from way back when featured on country-club knits above tweed check pants in the same high-waisted wide shape, but worn for the sake of contemporaneousness with sneakers instead of saddle shoes. That was not the only nod to now—there was a cool tracksuit in a check Bogie would have loved worn harmoniously beneath a raglan shouldered herringbone overcoat, but really these were few and far between.

So why go old-school glitz in 2019? Stefano Gabbana said: “We love today because of the freedom: Everybody feels free to dress in whatever and however they want. But we wanted to explore this style of elegance now, because it gives young men of today the opportunity to enjoy fashion in a way that is new for them. We have lost this sense of elegance recently—fashion is the mirror of the time—and of course we do sportswear and mix and match too. But we’ve found that a lot of the guys we have worked recently with get very excited at the prospect of wearing an amazing suit or a tuxedo—a really strong suit or a tuxedo, not something boring—because that is not something that is so available to them. And this kind of elegance is timeless.” All this show lacked was Lauren Bacall leaning against a piano.

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