Trashy-glam was the mood that Dean and Dan Caten channeled with their fall collection. The result was really fun and unapologetic.
Corona fatigue: a term for the increasing lack of tenacity experienced by many as the pandemic drags on. A year into endless lockdowns, the forced optimism of last spring is fading fast. If, back then, we all had to pretend we loved video calls and new show formats, talking to someone who’s happy to admit the opposite now feels quite refreshing. “I have to be honest, I’m a little bit bored of those kinds of projects,” Dan Caten said, when asked about the film he and his brother Dean had produced for their Dsquared2 collection.
It wasn’t that they weren’t into its “witty, twisted” storyline, but these guys are showgirls. The world is their runway, or perhaps it’s the other way around.
On the phone from a beach in Brazil, the line kept breaking up as Wi-Fi came and went, an in-our-face illustration of the mindless issues we deal with daily at this moment in time. “I don’t know, it’s different. You just do your work and go home, never really getting the reward part of it,” Dan said, lamenting the lack of shows.
“There’s no buzz, no energy. It’s flat.” Where, last season, the designers drew on the determination of those earlier pandemic days in a collection of pared-back tidy essentials, this season they put their corona fatigue—since gained—to equal use.
“Let’s go back to who we were and who we are. And we are a bit more trashy,” he said. “Fuck it up a bit, make her a bitch again, she doesn’t give a shit.”
They envisioned a sequel to the motorhome motif of their pre-collection—domestic confinement on the road—and staged a party outside the vehicle.
For the Catens, the reflection that’s come with life in lockdown triggered a nostalgia for their formative years in Toronto, and the Canadiana that runs through their veins.
They portrayed it in a quintessential Dsquared2 wardrobe, which scattered the glitter of figure skating on grunge elements in a nod to Saturday evenings spent at the rink. “We were supposed to play hockey, but all we wanted to do was twirls and spins,” Dan reminisced. Fellow Canadian Patrick Cox provided the soles to do it in, collaborating on square-toed shoes and mountain boots in the spirit of the early 1990s.
For designers like the Catens, being deprived of the runway their work is intended for has had an impact. In many ways, the collection felt like a best-of: a more commercial collage of all the Canadiana, trailer-park glamour, and performancewear pizzazz that make up their genetics. (In the case of the patchwork elements that pieced together the menswear, quite literally so.)
“When you do a show, you want to throw more on top of it, make it outrageously expensive. That’s fun, but it’s not bringing home the bacon. They’re image collections, so the industry loves not having to do those. But for the creative people, those are our moments of full creativity,” Dan paused. “So, this is a happy in-between.”
You can imagine that’s how we’ll feel when we can once again shop for a relatively normal existence, one leg still in lockdown mode but the other eager to take to the runway of the city sidewalk.
“Now that we’ve started this,” Dan said, referring to their more pragmatic main collections, “and sales are actually good for a main collection, we’ll continue to do this kind of product but just add, like, 10 exits and fluff it up a little bit.” Make no mistake, though.
Dsquared2 will be returning to the runway. “The crowd, the music, the show…being backstage! That’s what I’m missing,” Dan said. “I don’t feel that ‘ah!’ anymore.”