If a runway venue is the architectural expression of a designer's point of view, then Dolce & Gabbana's gargantuan new show space — set to open today to celebrate the house's 20th anniversary — is a dazzling black glass monument to the success of fashion's evergreen boys.

Once the site of Milan's historic Metropol theater, +ARCH design studio transformed the cinema into pure Dolce & Gabbana glam, from the entrance's imposing basaltina stone staircase to the enormous handmade black Murano glass chandelier that hangs from a dimpled-gold ceiling.

The focal point is the cinema's original arched ceiling, which soars 50 feet above an elevated black opaline glass stage and is flanked by rows of black velvet high-back stadium seats. Sleek black glass balconies sweep around the 10,000-square-foot main room, creating plenty of space for the SROs. The tight squeeze of the designers' former San Damiano space has been replaced with plenty of legroom.

Backstage, there are thousands of additional square feet, where separate rooms are set up for tailors, caterers, makeup artists and models.

"We want people to feel like they're in Stefano [Gabbana] and Domenico's home," said Domenico Dolce, during a preview of the space Wednesday afternoon.

And that invitation extends to all Milan. The pair plans to open the space — which cost 15 million euros, or $18 million, to renovate — to the city for exhibits, concerts and other events.

With less than 24 hours to go before 1,000-plus guests arrive for Dolce & Gabbana's spring 2006 collection, workers were racing to meet the impending deadline.

Backstage, Dolce, wearing jeans and a white T-shirt, was buzzing around the sprawling area, getting his bearings as crews began to bring in the clothes.

"Mamma mia! I feel like it's the first show," Dolce said. "Of course, we have more resources now than then but — mamma mia — emotionally, I feel the same."

Emotions have been running high for the duo, which is celebrating 20 years of fashion this week. In addition to the new runway, they are publishing "20 Years of Dolce & Gabbana," a scrapbook-like tome chock-full of photos. And in true Dolce & Gabbana style, the duo will celebrate it all with a bash.Tonight they'll host what is sure to be the biggest party of fashion week and have tapped Lido dancers and Donna Summer to perform for some 2,000 guests.

"This is an important moment for us," Dolce said. Gabbana quickly jumped in: "Yet it magically all gets done. Then there's the party: drink, dance and basta."

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