The cancellation of Dolce & Gabbana by the digital world following a series of offensive statements about race, sexuality, and size, which reached a pinnacle in 2018 when the fashion house released a video in China featuring a Chinese model clumsily eating spaghetti with chopsticks, appears to have reached a multimillion-dollar end level.
How else to explain the brand’s announcement on Sept. 30 that a nine-piece collection of digital NFTs, or nonfungible tokens, as well as some genuine couture, had sold at auction for a total of 1,885.719 Ether (Ethereum cryptocurrency), or over $5.7 million.
Collezione Genesi, developed in collaboration with UNXD, a curated marketplace for digital luxury and culture, and auctioned by UNXD, was described as the most sophisticated fashion NFT has ever designed and presented.
Because the payment to Dolce & Gabbana would be made at market rates rather than prices at the auction’s closing, the cryptocurrency’s value has risen since the announcement — up 10% as of Friday — bringing the collection’s value to $6.1 million. Pranksy and Seed, two of the most well-known NFT collectors; Boson Protocol, a startup developing a crypto-commerce protocol; and Red DAO, a decentralized autonomous organization created in the crypto community to invest in digital fashion, were among the buyers.
“These charges are not surprising,” said Nick Jushchyshyn, Drexel University’s program director for Virtual Reality and Immersive Media. “You have world-renowned designers producing something truly one-of-a-kind, with extraordinary attention to detail — well beyond what you would expect to see in a standard computer representation — and it’s a one-of-a-kind piece. It’s only natural that there would be an NFT collector out there who would appreciate it.”
Merav Ozair, a prominent blockchain specialist and Rutgers Business School FinTech professor, agreed. “In fact, I expected it to arrive sooner,” Ozair explained. “We are going toward a virtual-reality world, and luxury products will be part of that world when we get there – sooner than we think, in a couple of years.”
Shashi Menon, the Dubai-based publisher of Vogue Arabia and the founder and CEO of UNXD, contacted Dolce & Gabbana with the concept in April. Even though the brand is known for its over-the-top luxury events rather than its pioneering technological spirit (see Jennifer Hudson belting out Puccini’s “Nessun Dorma” during the women’s fashion show and Helen Mirren dancing to Ciara performing “1, 2 Ste” during the semiannual couture Alta Moda weekend, most recently held in Venice in August, during which Jennifer Hudson belted out Puccini’s “Nessun Dorma” during the women’s fashion.
They collaborated to develop the Genesis Collection, or Collezione Genesi (there are said to be more coming). A request for comment from Dolce & Gabbana was not returned.
Five of the pieces were physical creations by Dolce & Gabbana, with virtual iterations by UNXD for the metaverse: two versions of The Dress from a Dream, in gold and silver, both with shimmering beads and crystal accents; The Glass Suit, an emerald-green men’s suit, similarly embellished; and two gold-plated and gem-studded silver crowns, The Lion Crown and The Dog Crown.
More NFTs are planned by Dolce & Gabbana and UNXD. They aim to launch DGFamily at the end of the month, a crypto community with four tiers of membership, the highest of which is gold, and which will be made up, at least initially, of Collezione Genesi purchasers. The NFT series of digitally created jewel boxes will be released next, providing access to more digital and physical drops and experiences.