Dan and Dean Caten can be heard long before they come into view. The Canadian twins emerge from the stairwell inside their new 7,600 sq ft flagship Dsquared2 store that dominates the corner of Conduit Street and Savile Row, their words tumbling over each other, making it hard to keep track of their individual thoughts. Dan, in black poloneck and jeans, seems a teensy bit more restrained than his identical brother Dean, in striped mohair sweater and jeans.
(Dean and Dan Caten)
They take me up to the first floor – Dan: ‘Let’s go up to womenswear, it’s a little more hidden away.’ Dean: ‘Menswear has to be on the ground floor – you know men, they don’t do stairs.’
(A view inside the store)
The pair perch on a velvet double-seater (their design: mid-century modern) while I take a single pew. Around us, dark glossy wood and mirrors reflect neat piles of distressed denim and high heels in punchy colours. They have 33 stores around the world; this, their latest, is an impressive three-floored glossy emporium. Dan: ‘We wanted to make an important statement here. London is so international. We love its blend of glamour and edge.’ Dean: ‘Our design studio will be on top of the store, so we’ll be here, way more.’ They have lived in London for eight years but as Dean says, ‘We’re gypsies, always travelling.’
(Dsquared s/s 2015)
Dan and Dean have been busy since I last saw them in December. First, they hosted a family gathering of 150 in a castle in Toronto. Dan: ‘We wanted to recreate our Grandma’s Christmas dinner, but on a bigger scale.’ He shows me a video of the event on his iPhone (Unique from Glee sang Bang Bang). Dean: ‘We hung family portraits on all the walls, it was very Downton Abbey’. They followed this up with a big bash celebrating 20 years of Dsquared2 after their menswear show in January, where Mary J Blige raised the roof. And in February they presented their autumn/winter 2015 womenswear collection – without the usual camp-in-a-musical-theatre-way – to very good reviews.
‘We were getting criticism for being gimmicky,’ says Dan of shows that have more recently featured heiresses in rehab, a Vegas pool bar and a jazz club. ‘So we said, OK, we’ll give you a graphic set and show you we can make clothes.’ Or, as Dean puts it: ‘We looked back at our last 20 years and thought what were our strongest shows? Who the f*ck are we?’
Their collection had a typical Dan-and-Dean storyline: ‘The queen’s plane was flying over Canada, her trunks fell out and, she doesn’t travel alone, so the butler’s clothes, his kids’ clothes all fell out and were found by a tribe of Inuits who interpreted them in their own way.’ Cue shrunken butlers’ jackets, big-pocketed cargo pants, layers of denim, fur, uniforms, braiding… ‘We looked back at what really worked, what was really us and reclaimed our girl: powerful, sexy, confident, cool. That’s our recipe. Now, every look going forward should make that list of words spring to mind,’ announces Dean.
‘The whole 20-year thing was a huge turning point for us,’ relays Dan. ‘We’ve laid these foundations, built a brand, and now we’re putting all the things in all the right places.’ Dsquared2, which last year turned over €200m, is solely owned by Dan and Dean Caten.
So what now, I ask? ‘For the next 20 years…’ starts Dan, ‘We’re just gonna kick ass,’ adds Dean.
Dsquared2 is now open at 51 Conduit Street, London W1