A ruched curtain lifted to reveal the betuxed Caten twins playing grand piano at the foot of a grand staircase. And a new style Fred and Ginger whooshed across the stage to Cole Porter. But the staircase was slightly shabby, dégradé symbols of the American dream. It was an extraordinary opening for a show that embraced the dichotomy of the Great Depression. On the one hand, the tailcoat-and-spats glitz of Hollywood, on the other, the railroad man in his engineer stripes.
Their much buzzed-about spring 2009 runway show in Milan was accordingly based on the Caten twins' signature—and now, timely—combination of formal and casual: A stone blazer with a retro polo; a waistcoat teamed with a fitted shirt and distressed jeans. Nor were there any surprises in the shrinkage of familiar items like a shearling jacket. But what felt fresh this time was the Catens' unholy optimism.
In fashion, there is always an interest in looking forward. "What's next?" Subliminal or verbal, this question is forever present in those who pursue fashion and those who create it. Consequently, the industry and its fans are often fickle. It is difficult not only to captivate an audience, but to hold on to it as well. Some designers change their identities, relying on trends, sensation, and the promise of pop-iconography. Some instead evolve from within. A true personal, creative effort is expressed, and a public finds its creative stars. Identical twins Dean and Dan Caten have mapped their future on this premise. Having a former background in women's wear, the twin brothers moved to Milan to create a men's collection, something completely different, personal and unique to themselves. Since 1994, their collection DSQUARED2 has been building a steady following around the world. Always sexy and often theatrical, their garments are fantastic yet easy to incorporate into a healthy wardrobe. Their popularity has been bolstered by the consistent nature of their creative vision as wells as support from the most exclusive specialty stores in the world, not over-active press or media attention.
The work speaks for itself, and it does so in volumes.