MILAN, Italy — Dean and Dan Caten have always thrived on a heady blend of order and chaos. Vintage DSquared2 managed to artfully blend the two. Tip too far in either direction and things could go wrong. But the men’s show today struck the perfect balance for the duo. Titled #mangapunk, it matched the monochrome rigour of punk with the cartoon-ish vigour of manga. Japan was in the grand embroidery (though the simplicity of traditional floral motifs was just as striking) and the humble patchworking technique called boro. The UK represented with the severity of the tailoring, some Black Watch tartan and the long, lean lines of the kilts (long enough at some points to be mistaken for priests’ cassocks — the Catens being never less than good Catholic boys).
Britain and Japan have always shared the peculiar kinship of island nations, but who knew that Italian/Canadian twins would master such a striking hybrid of the two? (Although twinship is a definite kinship.) And they did it using their own highly evolved sportswear language: denim, skins, the kind of substantial outerwear that could resist a Canadian winter. The Catens showed the Godzilla of parkas today, clotted with manga graphics. It was one of the best pieces in the show. But its polar opposite — a plain coat in white denim — was also a standout.
Every so often with the Catens, there’s a lurking suspicion that they don’t take what they do very seriously. Which is, of course, nonsense, given the scale of their business. Still, today’s collection, for all its manga hijinks, reeked of a seriousness of purpose, which was refreshing. The twins are pretty fierce tailors, after all, and there was plenty of that particular craft to appreciate. But then they had to go and play Aneka’s Japanese Boy. And the Vapors’ Turning Japanese. Pop went the po-face.