Arts and Entertainment

Doubles and Dualism on Dsquared2’s Fashion Showcase

Dsquared^2 takes the runway of the Milan Men Fashion Week 2024 with identical twins and an eccentric makeover machine.

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By Ruiqi He

In Milan, the cosmopolitan fashion capital of the world, models strut along the triangular pathway, presenting an assortment of streetwear. Each model steps into a large, futuristic “machine,” a sleek, white tube with flashing lights, which provides the seamless transition from the disorderly, sleazy looks to the brand new, sophisticated garments on what supposedly is the same person. This is Dsquared2’s Fall/Winter 2024 fashion show, presented at the Milan Men’s Fashion Week.

Their “machine” is the highlight of the show; within seconds of stepping in, each model is extravagantly “transformed.” The magic of this makeover “machine” was possible with the casting of several identical twins. As one twin steps off the runway, their counterpart smoothly takes their place and walks out the other side of the “machine.” It highlights the essence of twin designers Dan and Dean Caten’s overall approach to fashion in this particular collection: the distinctiveness between identical twins, despite their indistinguishable appearances. In promoting their new line of fashion, the brothers also wanted to incorporate their imagination into the presentation, thus centering their show around this modernistic “machine.”

Dsquared2 is a renowned Italian luxury brand that designs men’s and women’s apparel, cosmetics, accessories, and footwear. The company is based in Milan, founded by the Caten brothers in 1995. The twins were born and raised in Canada, but moved to New York in 1983 to pursue their studies in fashion. They attended the Parsons School of Design but returned to Canada shortly thereafter. The twins eventually moved to Milan, Italy, nurturing their talents through designing for the house of Gianni Versace and denim brand Diesel. They made their debut with the foundation of Dsquared2, combining chic and edgy styles with traditional Italian tailoring in their clothing. The Caten brothers quickly gained recognition, turning the heads of the fashion world and winning a plethora of awards such as the “Best Designers of the Year” from GQ Spain in 2007 and GQ Germany’s “Man of the Year” in 2009. 

The brothers have worked with a number of notable figures in their runway shows, including Christina Aguilera in 2005 and Rihanna in 2007. Their label has been supported by celebrities including Justin Timberlake, Kendrick Lamar, Ricky Martin, and Fergie. Dsquared2 has made its appearance in music videos too, such as The Black Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feeling.” Over the years, Dsquared2 has spread across the globe—from Paris to Hong Kong to New York. The brand lives up to its motto: “Born in Canada, living in London, made in Italy.”

Their provocative yet polished styles shine through in many of their collections. Take their Fall/Winter 2024 show, for example. The first look of the show is layered chaotically: above the model’s chunky hiking boots and rumpled, ripped beige trousers is a chocolate-brown flannel unevenly tied around his waist. Under his leather vest is a sherpa-lined green sleeveless zip-up, which is over an unbuttoned blue flannel. He dons a gray beanie with the word “Lord” in red gothic lettering. His face, neck, and chest are covered with streaky, dark makeup, contributing to the begrimed and disheveled aesthetic of the collection. 

Within seconds of stepping into the twins’ “makeover machine,” the model emerges dressed in a minimalistic black outfit: black dress shoes, solid black pants, and a black waistcoat with two black buttons. He holds a leather wallet with a golden insignia in the middle. Without a beanie, the model’s hair is in a neat, comb-over style. The next model has a similar untamed appearance: his black boots have their tongues sticking out; his blue denim jeans have several mismatched patches; a navy teal and saffron yellow flannel is tied messily around his waist. This particular model possesses a slightly refined style, but the unbuttoned golden-dotted dress shirt under a black blazer reveals his dirt-encrusted skin, a look that is shared across many of the pre-makeover models.

This pattern continues across the other models, in which their “rags” become “riches.” Through the enchanting machine, denim becomes leather; grimy faces turn into clean faces of smoky eyeshadow coupled with bright red lips. Many of the post-makeover looks are more promiscuous, comprising of sheer fabrics, sparkling sequins, and the exposure of bare skin. There is an overall sense of sophistication and elegance woven into the simplistic clothing and striking accessories that emphasize the gap between the formality of the pre-makeover look and the post-makeover look. 

Dan and Dean Caten participate in this concept of duality between twins by presenting a look themselves at the very end of the show. For the identical Caten brothers, this runway show proves that despite their similar appearances, identical twins are distinct people with their own unique personalities. They sought to highlight the importance of individuality, even among identical twins. Fashion serves as an expression of individuality and is fundamental in defining and exhibiting an individual’s persona. There is a concept of originality within the duality of twins, despite their identities often being melded together because of their identical appearance. The Caten brothers found inspiration through their own experiences as identical twins: “People love to depict twins as identical people, but we have very different personalities. This show was an opportunity for us to show our different sides through daywear and eveningwear, presented with a twin casting,” they stated backstage.

Since its inception, Dsquared2 has established itself as a noteworthy high-end brand, following the latest trends in fashion. Its versatility and eccentric styles blend edgy streetwear with classic Italian seamstressing to create a new, playful approach to luxury. Dsquared2 will continue to push forward in reshaping and evolving the fashion industry.