Twin brothers Dean and Dan Caten (né Catenacci) were born on 19 December 1964 in a suburb of Toronto, Canada. The brothers were the youngest of nine children. In 1983, they moved to New York to study at the Parsons School of Design. Three years later, they launched their debut women’s wear collection under the name DEanDAN. In 1988, Dean and Dan were appointed as creative directors at the Canadian brand Ports International (now Ports 1961) as well as its diffusion line, Tabi.
In 1991, the designers left North America for Milan, where they undertook design roles at the major Italian labels Versace and Diesel. This marked the start of a long-term relationship with Diesel. In 1994 the company funded the Catens’ first Dsquared2 menswear collection, shown at a Paris trade show. This corporate partnership continues in the early twenty-first century, with Diesel founder and president Renzo Rosso’s company Staff International overseeing the manufacturing and production of Dsquared2.
In 2003, the Caten twins privately debuted their first Dsquared2 women’s wear collection during the men’s spring/summer show week in Milan. The runway show, opening with Naomi Campbell, featured models playfully descending from a bubblegum pink airplane. Importing the theatrics and spirited atmosphere from nearly a decade of menswear collections, this show introduced the brand to a new fashion market and was the first of many memorable and over-the-top catwalk shows to come.
Though the designers reside in London and their product continues to be made in Italy, there are undeniable elements of Canadiana and Western genre infused into each collection. On the men’s side, cowboy motifs, rustic flannels, trapper hats, and utilitarian denim figure prominently; while fur, plaid, fringing, and cutoff shorts in the style worn by Daisy Duke (a character in the TV show The Dukes of Hazzard) are common features in the women’s collections. The fall/winter catwalk show of 2011 included a snow machine and shoes that resembled ice skates; in 2004 the fall/winter runway opened with models dressed as officers from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The symbiotic significance of this relationship was made evident in 2009 when the Catens were awarded a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame. Equally prominent across Dsquared2 collections is a youthful playfulness and retro sexiness. However, it’s not all sex and snow at Dsquared2: each season is built on sophisticated construction and detailed design.
Given their talent for theatricality and glamour, it comes as no surprise that Dsquared2 share a special relationship with music and its leading ladies. In 2005 Christina Aguilera took to the menswear runway to theatrically undress models. Three years later, Rihanna pulled up to the catwalk in a muscle car before giving the opening walk. Off the catwalk, they have designed tour costumes for Madonna, Aguilera, and Britney Spears. The twins appeared in music video for Fergie’s song “Clumsy.” Dsquared2 is a favorite among male musicians as well, including Justin Timberlake and Lenny Kravitz. From artist to artist, the admiration is clear; when asked to list five reasons for why she loves Dsquared2, Rihanna answered, “I have more than five reasons, I could be here all day.”