back in time
Dan and Dean Caten, Founders of Dsquared2, Reflect on 25 Years of Dressing The Best
“Going far doesn’t always mean following the original plan,” says Dan Caten, the co-founder of the cutting-edge fashion label Dsquared2. Indeed, just over 25 years after its founding, the Milan-based luxury label has evolved far beyond the bounds that Dan and his twin brother Dean initially set out for the brand.
The twins started Dsquared2 in 1995—from scratch and with minimal funds—after a semester at Parsons together and a stint as co-creative directors for Canadian luxury label Ports 1961. To maximize their resources, the duo played to their strengths, presenting an inaugural menswear collection that was equal parts sporty and extravagant, effortless and glamorous.
What started in 1995 as a passion project on a shoestring budget quickly became the source for must-wear designs. After Madonna tapped the duo to design the custom costuming for her 2001 Drowned World Tour—a move which inspired Dsquared2 to expand into womenswear—the label caught the attention of early aughts icons including Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, and Rihanna. The endorsement of a slew of strong-willed pop stars quickly propelled the Canadian-born brothers, and their Italian-inspired designs, into the mainstream.
Now, more than a quarter century after their debut, Dsquared2 has evolved from a modest menswear line into a lifestyle brand offering everything from footwear to cosmetics. Below, the Caten brothers reflect on the standout moments of their 25-year legacy—and their love for the women who helped them earn it.
DAN: This is the most important moment in our history — it’s what led us to develop our womenswear. We were only two young guys when we designed custom for Madonna. We didn’t have much experience at all. We wanted to create something iconic and very recognizable.
CHRISTINA AGUILERA, 2005
DEAN: This sexy leather mini dress is forever imprinted in my mind. Christina agreed to close our Menswear Spring / Summer 2005 show as our guest of honor—so proud and confident. She walked the runway like a diva!
NAOMI CAMPBELL, 2003
DAN: Our bond with Naomi started with our first womenswear show and it still lasts today; she is one of the faces of our latest SS21 campaign. She really supported us. In our first show she got all the top girls from her agency to walk for us. We barely had any budget, but we had a stunning lineup.
DEAN: We had so much fun when Fergie asked us to be part of her music video for “Clumsy.” We always knew that fashion would be our life, but if we hadn’t been designers, maybe we would have been singers … who knows!
SISTER SLEDGE, 2020
DEAN: Sister Sledge performed at the close of our Fall / Winter 25th anniversary show last January. I’ll never forget them singing “we are family, Dsquared2 family,” as they walked down the runway with us. Is there anything more inspirational?
NAOMI CAMPBELL, PRECIOUS LEE, VALENTINA SAMPAIO, ZLATAN IBRAHIMOVIC, 2021
DAN: Being on set with Naomi, Zlatan and so many other talents for our SS21 shoot was so exciting. We are blown away with the casting for the campaign—it was a true explosion of different visions and values that merged beautifully. The most iconic looks of the collection are worn by well-known personalities and as well as young artists and creatives, making everything more meaningful and evocative. We felt like part of a great, united tribe.