JUST SAYING

CANADIAN FASHION AND SHOWING IT IN CANADA AND THE CONSTANT WHINE OF WHY SHOULD WE HAVE TO GO SOMEWHERE ELSE, WHY CAN’T WE BE WORLD FAMOUS RIGHT HERE?

POINT ONE:
IT’S LONDON FASHION WEEK. TOM FORD, YOU KNOW HIM, THE AMERICAN WHO WORKED FOR CATHY HARDWICK (WHO?) FOR MANY YEARS, BEFORE MOVING TO ITALY AND WORKING FOR GUCCI, WHERE HIS NAME BECAME GLOBALLY RECOGNIZED (BY THE WAY, IT WAS NOT WITH HIS FIRST COLLECTION THERE), SHOWED. NOT IN LONDON, HOWEVER; HE REPLICATED HIS LONDON SHOW SPACE IN LOS ANGELES, FOR THIS SEASON ANYWAY. THAT’S WHERE HIS SHOWPIECE CLIENTS ARE RIGHT NOW, IT IS THE WEEKEND OF THE ACADEMY AWARDS. JULIANNE MOORE, ACADMEY NOMINEE, FOR EXAMPLE, AN ARDENT FAN AND OFTEN SEEN WEARER OF THE LABEL, (WHO, BY THE WAY, JUST TO NAME DROP, WHEN WORKING OUT OF TOWN, I KNOW BECAUSE I HAD THE IMMENSE PLEASURE OF WORKING WITH HER, SHOWING HER HOW TO SEW FOR HER ROLE IN CARRIE, SHOT HERE IN TORONTO, HAS HER MEASUREMENTS FAXED IN PRE ARRIVAL ON TOM FORD LETTERHEAD) WAS THERE, AMONG MANY OTHER BIG NAME HOLLYWOOD TYPE PEOPLE. ANNA WINTOUR (OF VOGUE, OF COURSE, NOT OF HOLLWYOOD BUT OF NEW YORK, TRAVELLED FROM LONDON WHERE SHE HAD LEFT THE SHOWS AND ANNOUNCED THAT SHE HAD COME TO SEE TOM IN L.A. AND SHE WOULD BE STAYING IN LA INSTEAD OF RETURNING TO LONDON FOR THE BALANCE OF THE SHOWS THERE (ALTHOUGH I AM QUITE SURE SHE HAS STAFF PLANTED IN BOTH LOCATIONS). IT SEEMS TO HAVE WORKED, THE SHOW HAS ALREADY, IN 1 DAY, DUE TO SPACE-AGE-TECHNOLOGY AND THE WORLD-WIDE-WEB, GARNERED ENDLESS REPORTAGE.

NOW, DOES THAT MAKE TOM FORD AN AMERICAN DESIGNER, A FRENCH DESIGNER (FOR HIS STINT AT YVES SAINT LAURENT), AN ITALIAN DESIGNER, OR A BRITISH DESIGNER? I AM QUITE SURE IF ASKED MR. FORD WILL TELL YOU HE IS AN AMERICAN, EVEN IF IT WAS ABROAD WHERE HE ROSE TO SUCH HEIGHTS. SO, THEN, IF TOM CAN CLAIM “AMERICAN” THEN A CANADIAN DESIGNER ABROAD SHOULD BE ABLE TO PROUDLY CLAIM, AS THE MOLSON BEER COMMERCIAL SAYS, “I AM CANADIAN”, AND STILL BE A SUCCESS, AT HOME AND ABROAD, WITHOUT THAT TIRESOME COMMMENT OF “SELLING OUT”, OR “WHAT A SHAME THEY HAD TO GO SOMEWHERE ELSE”. KUDOS TO THOSE ABROAD, DEAN AND DAN, ERDEM, CALLA, JEAN-PIERRE, JUST TO NAME A FEW.

POINT TWO:
PARIS IS AND HAS BEEN THE FASHION CENTER OF THE WORLD FOR OVER 300 YEARS. THE FINEST FABRICS, THE SUREST HANDS AND THE MOST LOVING CLIENTELLE. LOUIS XIV PROMOTED IT TO THE WORLD, AS THE ONLY FASHION, IN HIS DAY, AND IT POSSIBLY WAS; AND THE WORLD BOUGHT IT. OVER TIME HOWEVER THE FACTS OF THE STORY HAVE CHANGED, ALTHOUGH THE MYTH HAS ENDURED. (WETHER BY THE HAND OF THE FRENCH OR THE WANT OF THE WORLD). HOW YOU ASK? AT THE END OF THE 19TH CENTURY, THE FATHER OF HAUTE COUTURE, THE BASTION OF FRENCH, THEREFORE WORLD FASHION, WAS AFTER ALL A TRANSPLANTED BRIT, THERE TO SELL FABRIC. LATER IN THE 20TH CENTURY DIOR MAY HAVE CLAIMED THAT “HAUTE COUTURE NEED NOT BE DIRECTLY ACCESSIBLE TO EVERYONE: IT NEED ONLY EXIST IN TH WORLD FOR ITS INFLUENCE TO BE FELT”, ALTHOUGH OTHER COUNTRIES HAD COUTURIERS, HAUTE OR NOT, WHO COULD MAKE CLOTHING EVERY BIT AS PERFECT: THOSE OF THE ALTA MODA IN ROME, A HANDFUL OF DESIGNERS, HARDY AMIES FOR ONE, IN ENGLAND AND CHARLES JAMES IN THE USA, FOR EXAMPLE. LUXURY GOODS ALTHOUGH NOT WITH THE TITLE OF HAUTE COUTURE, THE FRENCH GOVERNMENT MADE SURE OF THAT. IN THE 2IST CENTURY THE FRENCH HAVE CONTINUED MARKETING THEIR COUNTRY AS THE EPI-CENTER OF THE FINEST OF ALL THINGS LUXURY (CAN YOU SAY LVMH , ALTHOUGH OF COURSE THEIR FINGERS ARE ALSO IN MANY OTHER COUNTRIE’S PIES) ESPECIALLY FASHION, AND THE WORLD STILL BUYS IT. THE HAUTE COUTURE REMAIN IN PARIS ALTHOUGH I MIGHT POINT OUT THAT ALTHOUGH THE SHOWS MAY BE IN PARIS, THE DESIGNERS AND THE TEXTILES COME FROM ALL OVER THE GLOBE..EXAMPLES, HMMM, KARL LAGERFELD, THE GERMAN GENTLEMAN, IS AT THE HELM, CREATING (OR RECREATING) AT CHANEL. JOHN GALLIANO, THE SPANIARD FROM BRITAIN, BEFORE HIS FALL FROM GRACE, WAS THE TORCH CARRIER AT THE MAGIC WORLD OF DIOR. (OF COURSE JOHN IS BACK WITH THE ASSISTANCE OF ITALIAN MANUFACTURING MAGNATE, RENZO ROSSO, WHO HAS HANDED HIM THE CONTROLLING ROPES AT MAISON MARGIELLA, ORIGNALLY A BELGIAN DESIGNER/COMPANY, NOW ITALIAN OWNED, WHICH PREVIOUSLY SHOWED IN PARIS, ALTHOUGH FOR GALLIANO’S DEBUT, HAS SHIFTED TO LONDON, WHERE HIS SUPPORT SYSTEM IS.)

THERE ARE MANY, MANY, CROSS BORDER CONNECTIONS TO BE FOUND IN PARIS IN THE 21ST CENTURY. IT MAKES SENSE. DESIGNERS AND MANUFACTURERS KNOW THIS IS STOP NUMBER 1 FOR THOSE OF THE MEDIA TO CONVERGE AND TO SEE WHAT WORLD FASHION (NOT JUST FRENCH) IS OFFERING CURRENTLY. ONE STOP, 5 DAYS,300 SHOWS, WHO COULD MISS. TAKE NOTE, THE MEMBERS OF THE MEDIA HAVE BEEN CLAIMING FOR YEARS THAT EVEN ADDING LONDON AND NEW YORK MAKE FOR A VERY GRUELLING SEVERAL MONTH ODYSSEY, WHICH THEY, BARELY HOME, HAVE TO TURN AROUND AND REPEAT, AS IF HAMSTERS IN A WHEEL AND ARE GETTING TIRED OF IT. I WAS TOLD YEARS AGO, BY A MEMBER OF THE INTERNATIONAL PRESS, WHOM I HAD ASKED HOW THEY PICKED WHO THEY WROTE ABOUT, “WE DON’T HAVE TIME TO GO DIGGING, WE ARE TOO TIRED AND TOO BUSY, WE SEE THOSE WHO MAKE IS EASY FOR US TO FIND THEM”. SO, WHY WOULD THEY COME TO CANADA, AND WHICH CITY WOULD THEY VISIT WHEN EVEN THE DESIGNERS AND MANUFACTURERS HERE CAN’T SEEM TO FIGURE THAT OUT. GO TO PARIS, OR LONDON, OR AT LEAST, NEW YORK. GO TO WHERE THE MARKET IS. OTHERS HAVE, AND ARE BEING COVERED IN THE MEDIA AND PURCHASED BY THE BUYERS.

POINT THREE:
TO COME AT IT FROM A DIFFERENT ANGLE, IF YOU WANT WARM WEATHER, AND MOST CANADIANS WOULD LOVE SOME RIGHT ABOUT NOW, IT IS AFTERALL MINUS 20 DEGREES CELSIUS AS I WRITE THIS, GO SOUTH. THE SUN WILL NOT BE WARMING THE TEMPERATURE HERE FOR SOME MONTHS.

POINT FOUR:
ANOTHER ANGLE. IF YOU WANT TO COMPETE IN CERTAIN SPORTS AT AN OLYMPIC LEVEL, YOU GO WHEREVER THE OLYMPICS ARE. IF YOU WANT TO PLAY HOCKEY, COME TO CANADA, AS EVIDENCED BY THE BEST OF THE WORLD PLAYING ON CANADIAN TEAMS.

MARSHALL MCLUHAN, A CANADIAN INTELLECT OF WORLD RENOWN, TOLD THE WORLD, DURING THE 1960’S, THAT IT WAS A GLOBAL VILLAGE. LISTEN UP…

YES, I WISH WE HAD IT ALL, BUT WE DON’T, AND THAT SHOULD NOT BE STOPPING US FROM “MAKING IT BIG”.

JUST SAYING.

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CANADIAN DESIGNERS ABROAD: JEAN-PIERRE BRAGANZA

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JEAN-PIERRE BRAGANZA STYLE.COM AW 2015

JEAN-PIERRE BRAGANZA
STYLE.COM
AW 2015

Jean-Pierre Braganza ~ AW15

As always, Braganza titled his latest line of women swear with a single word and this season, EXCELSIORA was the name given to the collection inspired by the Metropolis era. Giving the JPB woman a combination of strength and elegance, she is simultaneously a modern day “film noir vixen and a war-time heroine”.

Braganza remains true to his signature sleek silhouettes. However, unlike last season where the Canada born designer favoured asymmetric hemlines, for Autumn/Winter ‘15 their is an distinct focus on symmetry – something which he has attributed to machine exteriors. Fighter jets in particular are referenced throughout the collection. Not only can they be found in the graphic printed sweaters but the figure flattering dresses with cowl necks or peplum folds expressed this same seductive symmetry.

The stand out garment from the show has got to be the wide-leg trousers made up of alternating size stripes in sheer and black. They really did encapsulate the precision engineering that Braganza was trying to instill upon us and the incredible movement they created down the runway had us mesmerised from the word go.

This isn’t the first time Braganza has explored machinery but, as the seasons progress, we can’t help but draw parallels between Braganza’s “terrifying beauty of fighter jets” and the Italian Futurist’s celebration of 20th century technology, in particular the violence of modern warfare. Let’s just call it ‘The Cult of the Machine’.

TWENTY6 x

JEAN-PIERRE BRAGANZA STYLE.COM AW 2015

JEAN-PIERRE BRAGANZA
STYLE.COM
AW 2015

JEAN-PIERRE BRAGANZA STYLE.COM AW 2015

JEAN-PIERRE BRAGANZA
STYLE.COM
AW 2015

JEAN-PIERRE BRAGANZA STYLE.COM AW 2015

JEAN-PIERRE BRAGANZA
STYLE.COM
AW 2015

JEAN-PIERRE BRAGANZA STYLE.COM AW 2015

JEAN-PIERRE BRAGANZA
STYLE.COM
AW 2015

http://twenty6magazine.tumblr.com/post/111646203019/jean-pierre-braganza-aw15-as-always-braganza

JEAN PIERRE BRAGANZA 7

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CANADIAN FASHION: PROBLEMS

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JEANNE SAYS

“How excited are you about Fashion Week?”

I was recently asked that question as I sat on a stool in a Toronto studio, a camera’s looming lens ready to capture my response. I had been invited to partake in a small film project celebrating Canadian fashion and was encouraged to expound on how things had evolved over the past three decades, since I first started reporting on Fashion Television. “How far do you think the scene has come?” the interviewer probed. I felt that I had to bite the bullet and be honest.

Am I excited about Fashion Week? The idea of celebrating talent is always exhilarating. We don’t do it enough in this country. And in a business that’s fraught with perils and pitfalls, where you’ve got to fight like a dog to pay your bills and hang on to your integrity while you reinvent the wheel at least every six months – well, every player who’s still standing each season deserves a whopping reward. Do we have outstanding talent in this country? We do. With a number of fine fashion schools, including Ryerson University’s, which has produced a handful of international success stories, Canada has managed to nurture a generation of progressive thinkers who respect what has gone before them but are determined to blaze new trails. Many are innovators who pay their dues in the gritty trenches and manage to ride the industry seesaw with aplomb. It’s never easy – not even for those fortunate enough to be backed by family money. The fickle fashion arena is unforgiving: It doesn’t suffer fools and, while it may perpetuate illusions, it also provides ruthless reality checks. It will build you up just to tear you down. Those who survive must be exalted. And those venturing out must be cheered

How far has the scene come? Not far enough. The talent has been there in spades, but what saddens me is that, as worthy as our seasoned veterans are, very few have had the power to become household names. Longevity and growth beyond our borders has also been problematic for some. I think back to the Canadian stars who rose to prominence in the 1980s. There was Alfred Sung, who was backed and brilliantly marketed by the legendary Mimran brothers and established a brand that is lucrative to this day, though the label’s namesake designer rarely surfaces. Wayne Clark, dubbed Canada’s King of Glamour, is still in business and makes beautiful dresses, but his brand has nowhere near the reach and exposure it once did. Brian Bailey has made a solid commercial success of his business, yet the lion’s share of it remains within Canada. Franco Mirabelli, another astute businessman, has also sustained himself nicely in this country and, like Bailey, has built a legion of loyal fans. Montreal’s Marie Saint Pierre has garnered huge respect over the years for her forward designs and maintains her business, though it hasn’t been easy. And no one can vouch for that better than Denis Gagnon, one of French Canada’s greatest design treasures, whose avant-garde sensibility is revered, though not always rewarded. There are other Canadian designers who have certainly made their mark over the past three decades and continue in the business to varying degrees: Simon Chang, Dominic Bellissimo, David Dixon, Linda Lundstrom, Hilary Radley, Catherine Regehr, Stephan Caras, Joyce Gunhouse and Judy Cornish of Comrags, Joeffer Caoc, Izzy Camilleri – all wonderful talents who soldier on but don’t rule the kinds of empires that their established American or European counterparts do. Then again, with a smaller population and a more timid entrepreneurial spirit, brand-building in this country is an overwhelming challenge.

Our biggest international bright lights are Dsquared’s Dean and Dan Caten, the brothers from Willowdale, Ont., who aimed to occupy the world stage back in the mid-eighties and now rule the roost from their perch in Milan. There are others who are following suit, including Montreal’s Erdem Moralioglu, who has built a brilliant name for himself in London. Winnipeg’s Mark Fast is also winning accolades in London, as is Ottawa’s Todd Lynn and Montreal’s Thomas Tait. Rad Hourani, also from Montreal, set his sights on Paris, as did Toronto’s Calla Haynes. I’m thrilled we have such strong representatives waving our flag on foreign shores. Wouldn’t it have been wonderful if they could’ve made their voices heard from home?

But there’s a price to pay for staying in this glorious country. This past year, when two of our best-loved designers, Lida Baday and Jeremy Laing, closed shop, I had to ask myself, “What does it take to really make it here in Canada?” It’s certainly loads more than mere talent and tenacity. Yes, there are some fantastic burgeoning fashion brands on the horizon, and new online opportunities are destined to change the shape of things to come. But I still worry about logistics. Big American retailers are moving in, fast and furious. We all have to pray that they’re going to recognize the value of what’s intrinsically Canadian, and how supporting these brands is vital to our national identity and, ultimately, our sense of ourselves. Then we have to get out there and shop – invest in our own, support homegrown labels, make a lot of noise about them. It’s time for Canadian fashion to rise up and show the world it matters. And it’s up to us to strut it proudly

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CANADIAN FASHION: PROBLEMS

CANADIAN PROBLEMSTHE ARTICLE IS NOT “NEW” BUT NEITHER IS THE STORY, AND IT HASN’T CHANGED SINCE THEN, SO…

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As his design partner, Helder Aguiar, watches, Diego Fuchs adjusts a sheer white top with draped back and grey skinny cargo pants on an unmoving model.

“Shoot, I’m supposed to be tweeting,”

Fuchs says, his low voice going up an octave.

Both he and Aguiar step out of the shot so Sarah Burtscher, a photographer, can capture the ensemble.

The young Toronto designers are near the end of a day of shooting the look book and campaign for their nascent line, [blak]i, in Burtscher’s small apartment.

The clothing being documented comprises their second collection. Their first, for fall/winter 2011, wasn’t picked up by a single store. This time, though, their prospects have improved somewhat: They have a business plan, a series of previews set up with stylists and a clearer sense of what it takes to become a viable Canadian label.

Even so, neither of them has slept in weeks, both claim. The neophyte designers met at the International Academy of Design in Toronto in 2005 and got their first jobs together at NADA, an independent label that went out of business earlier this year. That experience prepared them for the less than stellar outcome of their own first season, which “was disappointing,”

Fuchs admits. “But having worked with a new label, it wasn’t a total surprise,” he adds.

Geared toward both men and women, [blak]i is best described as high-concept streetwear. For women, that might mean grey leather shorts with fuchsia detailing partnered with a multihued sheerback bias-cut shirt. Fuchs designs the women’s wear collection, while Aguiar focuses on men’s wear.

At the moment, they both have full-time jobs and no additional funding, using their savings and day-to-day earnings to produce the line. They are not, in other words, the Proenza Schouler boys, the well-connected New York fashion darlings whose rise to fame was meteoric.

For most young designers, this is typically the reality. If Fuchs and Aguiar are lucky, their look book will garner the attention of a supportive retailer and then maybe a fashion editor. If they’re especially lucky, they’ll also attract an investor willing to help them take their line to the next level, even if such support can be hard to come by in Canada.

“Everything comes down to money and we’re just too short of it in this country for this industry,” Susan Langdon, executive director of the Toronto Fashion Incubator, says, citing cautious lenders and a small marketplace.

According to Canadian fashion guru Joseph Mimran, a business plan is key to success, more important a tool, in fact, than a sewing machine. “There are successful fashion businesses with poor design, but I never see successful designers with a poor business model,” says the Joe Fresh chief, who adds that he can dissect a balance sheet just as well as a garment.

At [blak]i, Aguiar and Fuchs don’t yet have a formal financial plan – mainly because there isn’t any money – but they do have a plan that covers market, client and product goals. Aguiar also holds a bachelor’s degree in commerce, while Fuchs has experience in costing fabric.

At this stage in their business development, supplies like textiles tend to cost more because they purchase those goods in smaller quantities. But such investments must be made. According to Barbara Atkin, vice president of fashion direction at Holt Renfrew, quality of materials and craftsmanship are what her buyers watch for most in new lines.

“We’re going to look at a garment from the inside out,” she says, adding that she and her team may work with a young designer over multiple seasons before making a purchase.

The competition from established brands, both Canadian and international, makes a breakthrough even tougher.

“Our ultimate goal is to go international,” says Aguiar, who feels that long-term success means entering foreign markets.

To that end, the aspiring couturiers will present their small preview collection and go store-to-store selling their line.

“Coming up with funding to push sales” is what it’s all about, Aguiar says.

YES, IT’S A LONG HARD ROAD TO TRAVEL. UPON VISITING THE BLAK WEBSITE IT APPEARS THE TWO HAVE NARROWED THEIR FOCUS TO WOMENS WEAR, AND HAVE GAINED A FOOTING IN RETAIL. BRAVO, KEEP MARCHING…IT CAN BE DONE!

http://www.blak-i.com/biography.html

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CANADIAN DESIGNERS ABROAD: DEAN AND DAN, AND, PORTS INTERNATIONAL

IT’S A RUN ON DEAN AND DAN, WITH A DASH OF PORTS THIS TIME…

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“DSquared2 is Canadian?” someone said, with complete disbelief, on the night of the brand’s big reveal during Paris Fashion Week in early October.

Perhaps the maple leafs stamped on T-shirts and colour-blocked basketball sneakers or the women’s boots with modified skate blades for heels wasn’t giveaway enough?

No matter. The important part is that Dean and Dan Caten, the sprightly Toronto-born twins who wave the Canadian flag with unrivaled brio, have set up what they’re calling their “first international flagship store” on one of the world’s most important fashion strips, the rue Saint-Honoré.

Completely by coincidence, their westward neighbour happens to be Ports 1961, another Canadian-born label, which opened its European flagship a few weeks ago.

These days, the word “flagship” gets tossed around very liberally. Brands seem to crown any store larger than a closet with the honorific. But Paris is not a place to go halfway and, accordingly, both brands are making grand statements in the City of Light.

The labels occupy the two desirable street-front spaces on either side of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel’s plush entrance. DSquared2 takes up three floors, while Ports 1961 has two. Where the former combines a yin-yang of Canadian timber and smoky grey mirrors, the latter, designed by Winka Dubbledam, is a study in understated luxe. Each has a curvaceous staircase for added ooh la la.

Incidentally, the Catens spent six years designing at Ports 1961 before decamping to Milan. “It’s like a haunting but it’s funny,” says Dan, who makes sure to point out that “our [store]is bigger, by the way.”

The Paris location, which he describes as “chic and elegant,” offers an opportunity for customers to experience the entire range, from eyewear to runway pieces.

Meanwhile, Ports 1961’s creative director, Fiona Cibani, says that Paris represents growth and exposure for the label, now headquartered in China, but also carries emotional weight.

“As long as I can remember, it’s been a dream of mine to have a store in Paris,” she gushes by phone from Milan.

Now that the dream has been fulfilled, though, what’s next? “My next dream is a Paris apartment. The store comes first; now I have a reason to be there.”

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CANADIAN DESIGNERS ABROAD: DEAN AND DAN CATEN

TRUE PATRIOT LOVE, DEAN AND DAN

I’LL OPEN WITH THE LAST FEW PARAGRAPHS IN THIS UP DATE ON DEAN AND DAN…

“Never say never,” says Dan.

Step by step, they add, they will make it to Canada. They’ve been getting back to Toronto more and more lately, and are closer than ever with their seven brothers and sisters. “There’s something sentimental about aging, that makes your heart bigger,” says Dan.

Despite having now spent more time outside Canada than in it, they still pine for cottage weekends and getting to Montreal, when there’s time. “What’s really important to us is where we come from, who we are and who we belong to,” says Dan. You could say they wear their nationality on their sleeves. “We identify ourselves in the fashion industry by waving our flag – and milking it in a weird way,” says Dean.

Dan: “It’s our mark. It’s who we can be – owning that and playing on that.”

HURRAY FOR OUR BOYS…READ ON

Getting out of the taxi at their home near Portobello Road, Dean pulls up the collar of his camel coat, wraps it around himself tightly and says, “We know what it’s like to be cold.”
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New Year’s has come and gone and everyone in London is exhaling after a long, busy season – not least Dan and Dean Caten. Flopped in the back of a slowmoving taxi en route to their Notting Hill home, they go over the events of the past few weeks in a stream of consciousness, finishing each other’s sentences without hesitation. In December, they had turned 50. Then, on Christmas Day, they hosted 150 Catenaccis – their very large Italian-Canadian family – at Casa Loma in Toronto.

“We completely restructured the building,” says Dan.

But “we didn’t touch the walls,” adds Dean. “We did a retrospective picture history of all the family.”

Dan: “We had 100 vintage Italian frames with old reprinted photographs,”

Dean: “ – in the beautiful oak hallway – ”

Dan: “ – with chandeliers …”

Before New Year’s Eve, they unveiled a new flagship on West Broadway in New York. And two weeks after that, the designers invited the Milanese glitterati – a Berlusconi, a Novembre, a Della Russo, even a Hilton – to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their label, DSquared2, at HangarBicocca, the cavernous modern-art gallery in Milan. Some 1,000 guests mingled over vodka cocktails amid towering Anselm Kiefer sculptures while Mary J. Blige crooned and models pranced in the designers’ signature parkas and furs.

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“The show was kind of like a progression of the brand,” says Dan. “We started off pulling out things that were really important and remade them. We opened with the No. 1 cut-off T-shirt and jeans Madonna wore, then into leather jackets, the Wild West theme, then moving forward as we matured into the world of tailoring.”

Dean: “We closed with a tailored tuxedo with Western embroidery.”

Dan: “It was very emotional. Our anniversary doesn’t just go back 20 years – this was a year we did a lot of celebrating.”

Fair enough. The boys – even at 50, I think they’d be okay with the label – have legitimately come of age after two decades in the trenches of Milan.

Not so long ago, it would have been so easy to write off the Catens as a novelty act. Identical twins, identically clothed and identically tanned, they spun an investment from Diesel’s Renzo Rosso into a collection of party clothes for a subculture of wealthy ravers and queens. They were always a bit outré for most – even deep into my years clubbing around Europe, I dismissed them as too Euro, too novelty, too Versace. (Indeed, more than one journalist has mistakenly ascribed their big break to an apprenticeship with Gianni himself. In fact they never worked there.)

Having briefly attended Parsons, then climbed the ladder at the Toronto label Ports, they were undoubtedly skilled and fantastically hard-working. Yet they were known mostly for their naughty gestures (remember the “F*cking Cold” fur caps?), for putting denim on the catwalk and for their celeb endorsements. In 2002, they dressed Madonna for her Drowned World Tour, thereafter launching a women’s-wear line. And in 2008, Rihanna opened their show in a muscle car and a black slip dress.

As recently as 2011, Tim Blanks wrote on Style.com that “Dean and Dan Caten are 21st-century vaudevillians, incapable of presenting a new collection without couching it in a saucy variety show … At this stage in the Catens’ career, what they do shouldn’t be so overshadowed by how they do it.”

Whether or not they took their friend’s words to heart, the twins have, by their own admission, done some growing up. “After 20 years of experience, I think we’ve mastered our craft,” says Dan. “Now we have great tailors and factories who know what our cut is, our feel and finishing. Even with T-shirts and denim – we’ve improved them a lot.”

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“Our own needs are much different today – less clubby,” adds Dean. “As we’ve matured and started getting tailored, with events in the evening, so have our clothes.”

Those men’s embroidered tuxedos shown at HangarBicocca for fall/winter 2015 were awards-season-anointed – a sophisticated foil to their pop-tastic spring 2015 men’s-wear collection. And their women’s wear has mellowed just enough to let their flattering silhouettes and luscious colour stand up, without the bling and the boobs and the wordy tees. With their spring/summer women’s-wear collection, I’d say they’ve out-patterned Prada, out-Célined Céline. Bikinis, hot pants and crop tops aside, DSquared2 has finally infiltrated the dreams of even this middle-aged, middle-class mother, with deft beadwork and brave colour-blocking on rich, tactile fabrics. The only gimmick remaining on the spring runway was the range of thick black-framed glasses the models wore in homage to the ringmasters.

None of this is to say that the Catens have gotten the glitter out of their systems entirely. The Day-Glo camouflage blazers they wore to take their bow at the spring men’s-wear show can attest to that. But when most people think of DSquared2, they think of the parka that launched a thousand parkas or the flawlessly washed jean. When I ask them about their legacy, Dan’s reply comes fast: “Straightforward fashion, perfected. Cool, cut well and shaped well.”

Dean: “Casual.”

Dan: “The things that people wear all the time and take for granted.”

Dean: “Getting a great fit on a T-shirt.”

Dan: “Wax hunting jackets with jeans and tweed. We love the mash-up world, the mash-up of tailoring with casual.”

Dean: “People can get it wrong a lot of the time.”

Because they’re their own best customers, the Catens are constantly tweaking, perfecting things as they go along. “We love a beautiful white shirt and a pair of jeans, men’s tailored coats,” says Dean. “That’s our look – boots, camel coat, white shirt, cardigan.”

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Then they look down at themselves, notice they’re both wearing exactly that and burst into giggles.

They do make it look easy, this designing gambit. But the mistake would be to equate “fun” with “easy.” They have plenty of the former, with little of the latter. “Our father once said, ‘When someone makes something look easy, they’re perfecting it,’” says Dean.

Dan: “Like a ballerina – looking like a feather.”

Dean: “There’s a lot behind the twirling.”

By all accounts, the brothers work constantly and have done so since they began at Ports. After moving to Milan in 1991, they put all their savings into building their first collection – only for the showroom that had ordered it to pull out. So they rented a truck and hauled it to a trade show in Paris. “We sold half a million dollars in four days,” says Dan. “If we’d been stuck in that showroom, we probably wouldn’t be here today.”

Luck has had nothing to do with it, he says. “Milan is very hard to penetrate and nobody’s opening any doors for you. Sometimes designers get lost in the shuffle because it’s hard to create an identity, but we were dedicated, we stuck to our guns.”

“We’re control freaks,” says Dean.

Their first flagship in Milan, a 5,400-square-footer opened in 2007 on Via Pietro Verri, was, they say, “a groundbreaker” for the brand. They swiftly rolled out monobrand boutiques in Capri, Istanbul, Kiev, Hong Kong, Cannes, Moscow, Dubai and Singapore. Not until they opened a massive headquarters on Milan’s Via Ceresio, with two rooftop pools and a restaurant, did they turn their attention to North America.

“America was one of our weakest audiences,” says Dan. “I don’t think they weren’t interested, I think it just wasn’t available. So now we’re making it available.”

Dean: “I think now we’re ready for the big leagues.”

Dan: “We’ve figured a lot of stuff out.”

They have also learned that their biggest online sales came not from Hong Kong or London, but from Los Angeles.

“We said, ‘Listen, there’s a void,’ ” Dan says.

In September, they opened their first American stand-alone space on Rodeo Drive, a 4,500-square-foot space with 30– foot ceilings and moose antlers on the walls. Bal Harbour, in Florida, opened earlier this month. There is also talk that, after 20 years, DSquared2 may bid ciao to Milan Fashion Week. With the pair now living in London and headquartered on Savile Row, they say that showing during that city’s fashion week would make perfect sense.

D2 GLOBE AND MAIL FEBRUARY 13 2015 6

What about New York?

“Never say never,” says Dan.

Step by step, they add, they will make it to Canada. They’ve been getting back to Toronto more and more lately, and are closer than ever with their seven brothers and sisters. “There’s something sentimental about aging, that makes your heart bigger,” says Dan.

Despite having now spent more time outside Canada than in it, they still pine for cottage weekends and getting to Montreal, when there’s time. “What’s really important to us is where we come from, who we are and who we belong to,” says Dan. You could say they wear their nationality on their sleeves. “We identify ourselves in the fashion industry by waving our flag – and milking it in a weird way,” says Dean.

Dan: “It’s our mark. It’s who we can be – owning that and playing on that.”

Getting out of the taxi at their home near Portobello Road, Dean pulls up the collar of his camel coat, wraps it around himself tightly and says, “We know what it’s like to be cold.”

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CANADIAN FASHION: LE CHATEAU PART 2

I SPENT SEVERAL WEEKS IN THE FALL SITTING IN THE AMAZING THOMAS FISHER RARE BOOK LIBRARY HOUSED WITHING AT JOHN P.ROBARTS RESEARCH LIBRARY AT THE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO EXCITEDLY TME TRAVELLING THROUGH CANADIAN FASHION HISTORY. AMONG THE MANY PUBLISHED TREASURES, FROM MANY CENTURIES, IS THE ARCHIVE TO STYLE MAGAZINE, THE “INSIDERS” FASHION INDUSTRY BIBLE. A TREASURE CHEST, WITH MONTHS MORE WANDERING STILL TO BE DONE, (SO FAR I HAVE ONLY MADE IT THROUGH THE 1970’S!) I WILL TALK MUCH MORE ABOUT THIS IN UPCOMING POSTS, HOWEVER, FOR NOW, WHILE FILING MY MANY FINDS, THIS PIECE ON HERSHEY SEGAL OF LE CHATEAU. IF YOU HAVE PREVIOUSLY READ THE POST ON LE CHATEAU (2015/02/17), THIS IS A GREAT PIECE OF BACKGROUND TO IT, IF NOT, JUMP BACK AFTER!

HERSHEY SEAGAL LE CHATEAU STYLE NOVEMBER 1972 (15)

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CANADIAN DESIGNERS ABROAD: THOMAS TAIT, LVMH WINNER 2014, ONE YEAR LATER

LVMH Unveils Shortlist for Prize

By Kate Abnett 20 February, 2015

See the full list of twenty-six designers shortlisted for the second annual LVMH Prize, the winner of which will receive €300,000 and a year-long mentorship.

LONDON, United Kingdom — Today, BoF can reveal the names of twenty-six designers shortlisted for the second annual LVMH Prize, an award set up in 2014 that grants a young fashion designer €300,000 and a year of mentorship from executives at the luxury conglomerate.

The shortlist, compiled below, contains designers from the main four fashion capitals, including Craig Green, Jacquemus, Marques Almeida, Agi & Sam, Ryan Roche and Arthur Arbesser, as well as candidates from Belgium (Devon Halfnight Leflufy), Ukraine (Anton Belinskiy) and Denmark (Astrid Andersen). In total, 10 countries are represented, differentiating the LVMH Prize, which casts a global net for design talent, from awards such as NewGen, ANDAM and the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund, which aim to support designers in specific geographies…

SADLY, NO CANADIANS THIS YEAR, BUT, SOME INFO ON CANADIAN DESIGNER ABROAD, THOMAS TAIT,!

The contenders will each be hoping to follow in the footsteps of London-based Canadian designer Thomas Tait, who took the top prize last year (New York-based Hood by Air and Mumbai-based Miuniku, both runners up, each received €100,000 euros and a yearlong mentorship).

“I had a very small team of only one full-time member of staff,” said Thomas Tait of the state of his business before winning the prize. “Now I have three, which is still small and very much a challenge financially. But the results of having more hands on deck have had a direct and almost immediate effect on my brand and its commercial development.”

“I’ve been working with the [LVMH] group on opening more manufacturing channels for the brand, which has been such an eye opening experience,” Tait continued. “We are working on a number of samples with European manufacturers this season and the results are fantastic. Hopefully my sales figures will be high enough to carry on working with these new manufacturers, who are used to working with much larger brands and high volumes.”

“We worked a lot with him this year to work on the strategy of his company and also to find new suppliers for him and also new clients,” said Arnault.

Tait will show his Autumn/Winter 2015 ready-to-wear collection at London Fashion Week on Monday. “We expect a lot from this catwalk,” said Arnault.

FOR FULL ARTICLE AND LIST OF THIS YEARS CONTENDERS SEE:

http://www.businessoffashion.com/2015/02/lvmh-unveils-shortlist-prize.html

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CANADIAN FASHION: LE CHATEAU

LONG BEFORE THE TERM “FAST FASHION” EVER APPEARED, NO ZARA, NO H&M, THERE WAS LE CHATEAU.

I GREW UP IN VANCOUVER AND IN THE LATE 1970’S, AND THERE WAS LITTLE FASHION, AND WHAT THERE WAS NOT CHEAP.

THERE WAS ONE SHOP IN VANCOUVER WHERE ONE COULD FIND THE HIP AND IT WAS “CLARK’S PLACE”. FOR GUYS AND GALS. OWNED AND OPERATED BY CLARK AND UNA SCHACTER. THEY WERE FROM MONTREAL AND THEY HAD AN EDGE. THEY BROUGHT IN A MUCH COOLER LOOK THAN ANYONE ELSE. I WORKED THERE, BRIEFLY, ON THE FLOOR AND DOING SOME BASIC BOOKEEPING. MOSTLY TO GET THE DISCOUNT,(BUT EVEN THERE I WAS ASKED TO TONE DOWN MY LOOK: 3 PIECE SUIT, STRING TIE, WITH PANTS TUCKED INTO FRYE BOOTS) SO I DIDN’T LAST. BUT I STILL SAVED UP AND BOUGHT, UNTIL LE CHATEAU ARRIVED.

TALES OF “CHATEAU’S” EXISTENCE HAD COME FROM FRIENDS WHO HAD “BEEN EAST” AND COME BACK WITH THE SHOPS TREASURES-SO-COOL-AND-NOT-EXPENSIVE. IT WAS FNALLY IN VANCOUVER. THE HIP-AND THE-NOT-SO-HIP QUICKLY CONVERGED ON THE NEW PACIFIC CENTER MALL SHOP. YOU COULD BUY A WHOLE OUTIFT FOR THE PRICE OF ONE PIECE ANYWHERE ELSE. IT GREW, THEY ADDED ANOTHER OUTLET IN RICHMOND SQUARE.THEY DID FASHION SHOWS IN ARTISITS LOFTS, THE VERY COOL KNEW HOW TO SHOP IT AND MAKE IT THEIR OWN.

I LEFT FOR TORONTO ABOUT THAT TIME, ONLY TO END UP A FEW SHORT MONTHS LATER WORKING AT PARACHUTE, OWNED AND OPERATED BY NICOLA PELLY AND HARRY PARNASS. THEY HAD MET WHILE SHE WAS DESIGNING CLOTHES AND HE INTERIORS, FOR LE CHATEAU. THEY, COMBINING THEIR CREATIVE SMARTS CREATED PARACHUTE AND TOOK FASHION TO AN INTERNATIONAL LEVEL NO ONE ELSE IN CANADA HAD ATTAINED AT THE TIME. THEY RODE INDUSTRIAL CHIC TO THE TOP.

MEANWHILE, BACK AT LE CHATEAU, AT WHAT I THINK MIGHT OF BEEN THEIR PEAK, THE FALL 1979 INSERT (I SADLY DON’T KNOW TO WHICH MAGAZINE). IT STANDS AS A TRUE TESTIMONIAL OF THE ZEITGEIST OF 1979.

“CHATEAU” IS STILL WITH US, BUT SEEMINGLY FORGOTTEN AND LEFT TO OUTER BOROUGH MALLS, NO LONGER THE HIPPEST OR THE FASTEST OR THE CHEAPEST, BUT, STILL GOING. AMAZING! I FONDLY REMEMBER WHEN…

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CANADIAN CONTENT: ELLE MARCH 2015

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BEAUFILLE  ELLE MARCH 2015 003

ELIZA FAULKNER ELLE MARCH 2015 007

JOE FRESH ELLE MARCH 2015 002

NICOLE BENISTI ELLE MARCH 2015 005

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