It’s just two days before DSquared2’s Spring/Summer 2012 Glastonbury-inspired runway show, and I’ve been able to snag a precious couple of hours with designers Dean and Dan Caten. When I arrive at their Milan headquarters a little early, the first person I run into is Dan, who is trying to dart out the automatic sliding gold-tinted glass doors with a half-eaten banana in hand. “I’ll be right back,” he says to me with a slightly exasperated smile. With his low-slung jeans, a crumpled white button-down shirt, black boots and an arm full of neon concert bracelets, he looks like a rock star trying to steal a break between sets. But before he can depart, fashion blogger Bryanboy sashays out of the showroom and into the mirrored lobby with an entourage of photographers trailing behind him. He’s wearing big shades and a lime-green sequined sweater draped over his shoulders, and he’s carrying a big black DSquared2 bag full of clothes—which he’ll show off from the front row at the upcoming runway extravaganza. Dan pauses again to say goodbye. “I’ll see you at the show,” calls out Bryanboy as he waves and heads to his chauffeured car.
I’m ushered into the spacious polished-cement showroom where Dan’s twin, Dean, and several assistants are focused on model fittings—and boot drama. “We’re trying to calculate the boots,” explains Dean. Calculate? In true over-the-top DSquared2 style, the “Rock Summer Festival 2012”-themed show includes an assortment of custom-made rainbow-coloured high-heeled rubber wellies—but there aren’t enough for all the models. The handwritten “boot plan” they are pondering looks like a series of complex algebraic formulas: “ORANGE: Aymeline × 2, 2 Caterina (1) –> Emily*.”
“It’s a real headache,” says Dan as he rejoins the group. “How many red boots, who can switch…” Dean jumps in. “Who can give their boots to who,” continues Dan, “and we have a lot more model fittings to do.” “We’ve done maybe five so far today,” concludes Dean. It’s obvious by the way the brothers finish each other’s sentences that they are on the same wavelength—they even share an office with one long, sleek black desk and matching computers.
Want to find out more of what happened behind-the-scenes of the DSquared2 runway show? Read on to the next page…Moments later, model Anaïs Pouliot arrives to try on looks for the show. “It’s a Canadian reunion!” announces Dean, as Pouliot, who grew up in Chicoutimi, Que., comes out from the change area in faux-mud-caked jeans and boots, an embroidered vest and a T-shirt, also splattered with faux mud. While the Catens now divide their time between Milan and London, “Canada will always be home for us,” says Dean. (And there is almost always a Canadian reference in their shows. This season, there’s a yellow Niagara Falls windbreaker and a fringed Manitoba bag.)
“Something’s not right,” says Dan as he fusses with Pouliot’s scarf. He tries rolling the T-shirt sleeves and then calls out, “Can you get me a pair of scissors?” An assistant complies. Dan quickly slices off the sleeves, and everyone approves. “Much better,” he says. Another assistant cranks up the stereo and hands Pouliot a bottle of Heineken. “Um, maybe it’s a little early,” she demurs politely. “No, it’s a prop for you to carry,” says Dan. We all laugh. As the custom mix of live concert anthems from U2, Coldplay and Lenny Kravitz blares—including the sound of cheering crowds—and Pouliot strides across the room clutching the beer bottle, I ask Dean if they ever use a stylist. “No, there are no stylists, no babysitters. These looks are our kids, and we’ll take care of them,” he answers.
Two days later, beneath strobe lights and dry ice, I’m watching Pouliot strut her stuff again at the official show. This time she’s in full festival-girl form, complete with rock-chic makeup and hair, and she’s walking down a packed-dirt runway that is getting muddier with every stomp. Suddenly, the circular stage set—with its yellow and orange tents and a vintage VW van—spins to reveal a music-festival-worthy mud pit complete with mud-caked concert-goers. As the fashion crowd cheers and that same custom concert soundtrack reverberates through my body, it feels like U2 has really taken the stage. Glastonbury does indeed rock!