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Dolce & Gabbana designer rides the Texas range for cowboy inspiration, hits H-town restaurants

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News, Shelby, Ashlyn Elick, Max, Taunia Elick, Lacey Elick Holis, Domenico Dolce, Laramy Elick Rafpor
Ashlyn Elick, from left, Max (not revealing last name) Taunia Elick, Lacey Elick Hollis, Domenico Dolce and Laramy Elic Rafpor at Texas Ranch Life. Courtesy of Texas Ranch Life
News, Shelby, Sight 'ems, Charles Clark, Domenico Dolce, August 2014
Ibiza chef Charles Clark shares a moment with Domenico Dolce of Dolce & Gabbana fame. Courtesy of Ibiza
Texas Ranch Life lakehouse view
When Domenico Dolce returns to Texas Ranch Life in the spring, he might catch the wildflowers. Courtesy photo
Texas Ranch Life chapel with roses
The chapel at Texas Ranch Life is one of several historic buildings. Courtesy photo
Texas Ranch Life fighting horses
Horses are active on the working ranch. Courtesy photo
News, Shelby, Ashlyn Elick, Max, Taunia Elick, Lacey Elick Holis, Domenico Dolce, Laramy Elick Rafpor
News, Shelby, Sight 'ems, Charles Clark, Domenico Dolce, August 2014
Texas Ranch Life lakehouse view
Texas Ranch Life chapel with roses
Texas Ranch Life fighting horses

When world-class fashion designers go looking for inspiration, they typically prowl the souks of Morocco, rummage through Paris flea markets or search the vaults of old world Russia. But Central Texas — Bellville and LaGrange? Yep, billionaire Domenico Dolce, the elder half of the Italian fashion powerhouse Dolce & Gabbana, hit the Lone Star State on a fashion quest during an early August vacation.

As he explained to Taunia Elick, owner of Texas Ranch Life, an 1,800 acre spread and ranch resort in Bellville, he was in a Texas state of mind. He shopped the small stores in the area for western wear that would provide inspiration for one of his future collections. Perhaps shades of Karl Lagerfeld's current cowgirl couture Texas fantasy for Chanel?

But the most delicious thing on the menu was the fashion discussion that  surprised the be-spectacled designer. 

Making sure that the sprite Italian had a full taste of Texas, Taunia and John Elick arranged for a private rodeo, brought in real cowboys and taught him line dancing and the Texas two-step. They even dressed him in a flowing Indian headdress for the rodeo entertainment. 

"We've had other celebrities out here but he was probably my favorite," Taunia said adding that he enjoyed his brief visit so much that he promised to return in the spring.

His itinerary included visits in Austin, Dallas and Houston where he bunked at the St. Regis and had Ibizi chef Charles Clark keep the restaurant open late one night for dinner. Clark personally selected the menu that included a Texas ribeye (Dolce's beau is strictly carnivore), fish, octopus and more. But the most delicious thing on the menu was the fashion discussion that  surprised the be-spectacled designer.

Clark is a connoisseur of high-fashion (he has been known to shop designer labels for special girlfriends) and carried on with Dolce. Clark knew when the line launched and other particulars about Dolce & Gabbana. 

Dolce and his pal also popped into Corner Table for one of their Houston meals.

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