Dean and Dan Caten, twin-duo and creative directors of Dsquared2, were in the mood to party this season. And it’s a serious matter for them, but that’s not to be confused with taking oneself too seriously – which the Italian house’s AW21, co-ed collection urges you not to. Presented as a short film, the buoyant boys and girls of Dsquared2 are liberated, and not just because they were all Covid-approved – its final credits assure us – as they point to an all-frills future that could be lurking somewhere in the distance. A nod to the insatiable feeling that someday soon, the ongoing pandemic will be one for the history books, and not a bleak reality.
Let’s start with the moveable home – a concept proposed by the fashion house as the living, breathing object thrust at the core of the collection. A symbol of carefree nomadism, it moves with the times as a safe space to “be your true self and possibly explore being something else entirely,” as the press notes mention.
The brand’s DNA is rooted in freedom of expression – and sexy – since the mid-’90s. But more than that, the brothers have proven an on-going dedication to rallying against bullying and their desire for individualism regardless of the status quo. Fuelled by their early experiences of bullying while in foster care, they have long-explored ways of emancipating their wearers from the constraints of side-eyed onlookers, often working with anti-bullying charity, Be Cool Be Nice. And don’t let the bastards get you down.
And so a cosmopolitan utopia is born, where the party is merely a conduit to lose yourself a little bit, have fun, dance and slap a smile on your face – irregardless of who’s around. The womenswear is characteristically shiny but decidedly relaxed, finding a middle-ground between party-appropriate attire, and the need to slip into something slightly more comfortable. After the past year of ’lax fits, it seems old habits won’t die too quickly. Thick knitted sweaters, worn-in jeans and long check shirts (appliquéd with crystals) build a familiar, casual foundation for the brand’s beginnings, subverted with generously collared jackets, a neon orange camo-print dress and a skirt suit in leather or mixed nylon.
A tiara headband and an all-over sequin drawstring bag gave a subtle reference to the school disco, interspersed with mature tailored jackets, tweed checks and wool and cashmere shirts. In another nostalgic nod, Patrick Cox restyled the celebrated Wannabe loafer – first launched in the ’90s at the height of the shoe brand’s popularity – as a heeled loafer with a mini platform, a high and thigh boot, and a lower ankle boot with a chunky heel.
Dsquared2’s men were dressed for the outdoors, presented in warming, oversized coats with a built-in check shirt, paired with dancefloor-ready wide-legged pants and smarter patch pocket chinos. In a sportier flex, zippered, colour-blocked jersey tops were worn under a puffer jacket, or a biker merged with a blazer. And tuxes follow suit (ahem) complete with the brand’s signature knack for denim details, while a cowboy shirt’s sequin embellishments suitably light up the nightfall once the sun’s gone down.