Double Take: Conversation with Dean and Dan Caten of Dsquared2 |  His |  Style

Double Take: Conversation with Dean and Dan Caten of Dsquared2 | His | Style

a writer sits down to interview Dean and Dan Caten, the Canadian founders and identical twins of the luxury Italian fashion house Dsquared2, it can be difficult to concentrate. Yes, they are charming, lively and funny, and your eyes will quickly switch from one to the other, searching fiercely, trying to spot the physical differences that set them apart – all the trickier as they wear Dsquared2 outfits identical – but because your thoughts will also turn to the article you plan to write, and how many twin-related puns it might be acceptable to print (see title).

For example, did Dean and Dan find 2022 to be kind of a double-edged sword? For one, in April the company happily announced Sergio Azzolari, a former senior executive at Benetton, Missoni and Tod’s Group, as its first CEO since 2017. Azzolari, Dean says, will be responsible for driving Dsquared2’s growth in ” strengthening its omnichannel footprint” and keeping an “increasingly global point of view”.

On the other edge of the sword, last February the brand announced the closure of its three-storey flagship store in London, which occupied a spot around the corner from Savile Line and Conduit Street, seven years after opening. A presence in London will still be maintained via Harrods, Harvey Nichols and Selfridges, as well as online, but the store closure may be a sign of the times, with retail footfall in the capital already in decline before numbers are worsened by Covid-19.

Dsquared2 AW22

Although Dean and Dan are reluctant to go into specifics, they at least make their feelings for the town clear. “London is polyhedral, inspiring and dynamic,” says an animated dean. “We love his lifestyle and admire his creativity. London is full of art, architecture and entertainment. Whatever you want to do, you can do it. This city is for us a pure experiment; young, cool and innovative, where trends are increasingly inspired by street style, or sharp artistic currents.

For many years the twins, now 57, called the capital “home”. When the couple decided to sell their Maida Vale townhouse, Grade II listed in 2020 they invited luxury london to take a look inside. We were shown portraits of Andy Warhol from david bowie and Elizabeth Taylor, and an original Jean-Michel Basquait. “We now live between Milan, where Dsquared2 is based, and Cyprus,” says Dan. “But when there is the opportunity, we are always very happy to come back to London. It’s still one of our favorite cities.

Dean and Dan grew up in Toronto, Canada, as the eighth and ninth children in an already struggling family (their father being from Lazio, Italy); spending time in foster care as teenagers when their parents couldn’t cope and were bullied for most of their school years. Yet in fashion, the duo have found solace and a way to express themselves. “We always knew we wanted to be designers,” Dean explains. “Ever since we were little, we always loved fashion and used to modify and make our own clothes. It just came naturally to us.

Dsquared2 AW22

Dan recalls similar memories. “At 10, we made our first special occasion outfit for one of our sisters,” he says. “For us, it was clear from the start, we knew we were meant to do something creative, and the best way to express ourselves was through clothing and style. Since then, our passion has become our job, and we were lucky enough to be able to pursue our dream and make it our life and our profession, and even today we are still active in terms of design.

First, a women’s label, DEanDAN, after which the twins signed on as creative directors of Toronto fashion house Ports International (now Ports 1961). A move to Milan followed in 1991, where they worked as designers for Versace and Diesel, the latter providing the funding to help launch Dsquared2 in 1995.

“Ports was the beginning for us, and we put so much energy and passion into this work,” says Dean. “We stayed there for six years and it was the most beautiful and unforgettable experience. We are so grateful to [late founder, Japanese-Canadian fashion designer] Luke Tanabe for believing in us.

“And Canada represents our roots, our starting point. The forest, nature, it’s part of our brand’s DNA. We love the clean air and the feeling of freedom you can feel there. It’s always nice to go back and visit your family when you get the chance.

Image: Alikhan Photography

Not that the opportunity presents itself so often. There’s Dsquared2 to run, celebrities to dress – including, in the past, Madonna, Cher, Beyoncé, Rihanna and brand ambassadors Naomi Campbell and Zlatan Ibrahimović – and even a restaurant to keep afloat. Ceresio7 is located in Milan and, in addition to serving food, has its own gym and spa.

How on earth do the brothers manage to stay in control of such a hectic professional life? “We’re positive people and we’re passionate,” says Dan. “We try not to take things too seriously and we always enjoy what we do – every day of our lives. We are so thankful for everything, and maybe it had a positive effect on our success.

What started as a small company making basic men’s clothing – shirts, t-shirts, jeans – has grown into a global brand with one of the most recognizable style aesthetics. A mixture of contrasts: sporty and glamorous, casual and extravagant, masculine and feminine. Contemporary street-inspired casual wear meets Italian haute couture. Grungy yet playful, rough yet ready collections – paint splatters, graffiti, rips, holes and tears – that belie the craftsmanship that produced them. The word ‘Icon’ is a slogan. A tiger roaring a recurring pattern. Denim and leather are the essential materials.

“Dsquared2 is about keeping it real,” says Dean. “Everything we see around us can inspire our creations: meeting interesting people, travelling, watching a movie… The music scene is also a great source of inspiration, and we always have ourselves in mind when we design our clothes – we were Dsquared2’s first customers! ”

Dsquared2 Pre-Fall 2022

“We like to experiment every season, without forgetting our Dsquared2 DNA,” says Dan. “Our SS22 ‘Luxury Grunge’ collection, for example, has deconstructed and worn glamorous pieces, designed with soul, with a past, future and present, characterized by floral prints on vaporous fabrics, destroyed meshes, recycled patchwork denims and tattered strand sequins.

Dan continues, “Next, for Fall/Winter 22, we’re really reaching out to Mother Nature through colorful and luxurious layering pieces. For men, there’s a quilted sleeping bag coat that wraps over a boxy striped knit; a blanket that turns into a coat draped over one shoulder; for women, we’ve got hidden gems shining in a long tulle tunic skirt, worn with a striped sweater and oversized faded jeans, with gigantic waistcoats and puffer jackets – some in soft leather with felt-lined hoods – and sheer nylon pants with goose down padding, finished with puffy nylon boots. There’s a lot going on, as you can see in the photos on this page.

If it is difficult to physically distinguish Dean and Dan, it is clear that the two brothers have very different personalities – which is even apparent in our interview. Dean, you get it, is the starry-eyed dreamer. Dan, the more prosaic, let’s go, of the two. At least that’s what I got. Is it fair to say?

“Ha!” Dan laughs. “Well, let’s put it this way, a lady once told us, ‘Dean is the wings, Dan is the feet,'” he smiles. “You can’t fly without wings and you can’t land without feet. We just need each other.

Read more: In conversation with Luca Rubinacci


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