Though Milan has made a strong return to in-person fashion shows, Dsquared2 creative directors Dean and Dan Caten, well-known for their celebratory, larger-than-life events, humbly opted for a digital presentation, promising to return with a bang when they can fully realize their extravagant vision and do it safely. Their Spring 2022 was still staged as a runway show, but used smart setting and editing to take the place of the energy of a live audience.
A sprawling and overgrown abandoned warehouse complex in Milan was the perfect home for the aptly titled “Grunge Fairytale” collection. Colorfully graffitied walls set the tone as both women and men strolled the DIY runway in elegantly disheveled layers of slashed jeans, floral patterns, torn knitwear, sparkles, cargo pockets, lacy bralettes, and camouflage jackets.
In its own way, the collection was on trend for the season with boxy blazers, lots of sheer, and 90’s references (to be expected in a grunge-inspired collection) in the form of low-waisted jeans, flannels, and cargo pants. Dsquared2’s freewheeling sensibility means they were able to glam up the grunge essence and push the references further than their peers, mixing in industrial cargo skirts and oodles of high/low layering.
Tempering the sense of grunge destruction and playing into its spirit of combination, floral chiffon tops and flowing dresses lent a fairy tale-like delicacy.
A similar feeling was accomplished with the men’s looks through the addition of butterfly wings, subverting the familiar suggestion of masculine toughness.
While it might have been nice to see a bit more brightness in a spring collection, there was some decent chromatic variation despite the relative mutedness. Transparent and metallic reflective materials shimmered elegantly, providing contrast to the flat colors.
The collection was relatively minimal in terms of the brand’s signature humorously confrontational text graphics, with the women’s collection having almost no lettering. But the men picked up the slack, with a few well-deployed slogans like “Boy Bitch” and the ever-so-cheeky “SATISFUCKTION GUARANTEED” on a floral shirt nicely expressing the collection’s subversive interpenetration of toughness and fragility.
As seems to be the case with most brands in Milan this week, Dsquared2 is sticking close to their established brand identity and not taking too many design risks, pushing a collection that feels quite commercially viable. Not many of these brands showing in Milan seem interested in pushing fashion creativity into the future, instead looking backwards to established codes – most often from the 90’s and early 2000’s.
While this is the case for Dsquared2 here as well, the brand does deserve some special recognition for finding the emotion and meaning in these throwback codes, instead of just using them for a recognizable visual. The combination of edgy, rebellious toughness and flowing, floral delicacy – especially when applied to the menswear – is an affirmation of the beauty and power of honestly recognizing the multiplicity of self. One can be strong and assertive while also being vulnerable and soft, and in fact the two aspects go hand in hand. Dsquared2’s gift is to provide a wardrobe for this freeing duality of self-expression, and to do it with style, humor, beauty, and strength.