MILAN — In the ever-evolving world of fashion, sometimes the most successful projects are those that take a step back and reflect on the past.

At least that’s what Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana are banking on with their newest endeavor, Dolce & Gabbana Vintage.

With consolidated sales up 48 percent to $346.6 million in 2002 (figures are converted from the euro at current exchange rates), the designers certainly don’t need to remarket their bestsellers, but that’s exactly what they’re doing through the new red-label collection.

"On one hand, we received a lot of requests from clients asking for our historic pieces," said Gabbana. "On the other, we wanted to bring back those classic Dolce & Gabbana items for young women who couldn’t dress in them [when they first came out] because they were too young."

Although the designers are nowhere near the age of retiring to their villa in Sicily and their signature collection is still much younger than some other Italian heavyweights, the duo is revisiting the past by reproducing some of their most emblematic pieces, like jewel-encrusted bustiers, crisp white shirts, little racer-back tanks and, of course, tailored jackets lined in leopard prints.

Over the years, the designers have garnered a reputation as some of the savviest marketers in the industry and Vintage is the latest example of why.

Picking up on the current trend for all things vintage, Dolce & Gabbana say they’re tapping into consumers’ desire to live a bit in the past.

Those roots, however, are far from what one has come to expect as vintage material. Most pieces of the collection date to the late Eighties and early Nineties.

The duo launched the Vintage collection on the runway last fall, with spring styles now in stores. The first 10 looks were dedicated to classic Dolce & Gabbana fare — black slinky dresses laced up the side, curvy suits and oversized jackets.

Following the success of that capsule collection, they decided to expand the Vintage line and recently opened their first Vintage store on Via Della Spiga here.

The 750-square-foot space, spiked with gilded tables, red velvet drapes and Isabella Rossellini portraits, immediately transports the customers to the heady days of supermodels, when excess was not only accepted but welcomed.Designed by architect David Chipperfield, the store follows traditional Dolce & Gabbana design with its basalt stone floors and black wood fixtures. Interiors were created by Dolce with longtime collaborator Ferruccio Laviani.

Price points are in line with the signature collection. Gabbana said pieces will be added or removed each season.

He declined to project sales for the Vintage collection and said for now the distribution of the collection will stay as is, with a select group of pieces sold exclusively through the Vintage store, and other items available through department stores and other Dolce & Gabbana boutiques. No other Vintage stores are in the works — at least for now.

The Vintage store is the latest step in the brand’s retail expansion here. After moving their men’s flagship to bigger digs on Corso Venezia in January, the designers transformed that original space into two separate units — one dedicated to Vintage and the other to their growing accessories line.

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