"Nobody feels like they're working at our shows. When it ceases to be fun, it's over for us," says Dan Caten, one half of design duo DSquared. That approach is reflected in the sensational catwalk shows associated with the Canadian label he runs with twin Dean, where sleek, sexy designs are sent down the runway against backdrop themes such as the Wild West and Equestrian England. And it's one which has earned them an enviable celebrity client list, ranging from Madonna and Christina Aguilera to Justin Timberlake and R&B talent Rihanna.
Born on December 19, 1965, to an Italian welder father and English mother, Dean and Dan Catenacci, as their surname was then, grew up in Willowdale, Ontario. The youngest of nine children, they found early inspiration in female family members. "I think growing up with five sisters has had a big influence on us," remembers Dan. "(They) were a lot older than us
and there was always somebody shopping for a prom dress."
The boys were also surrounded by the culture of their Italian roots, which eventually led to them to choose Milan as the home for their first flagship store, which opened in 2007.
The road to glory in the Italian fashion capital, however, was a long one. After graduating from high school, the twins discovered their creative talents after enrolling at the Parsons School of Design in New York City for a six-week summer programme. A job working for a catalogue in Canada followed, before they decided to pursue their dream of launching a fashion label and moved to Milan in 1991.
Struggling to find work Dean and Dan started hosting parties for influential members of the fashion scene in order to make the right contacts and find out how things worked in Italy. Then, three years after arriving in the country, they pooled their savings and created a 35-piece menswear collection - choosing to present it in Paris, rather than Milan where they had struggled to make inroads. Buyers in the French capital were impressed, however, and the pair secured more than half a million dollars-worth of orders, landing accounts with top international stores.
It wasn't long before the rich and famous caught on. After spotting a pal wearing a pair of Dsquared jeans Madonna
asked the brothers to design her wardrobe for the Don't Tell Me
video and to create 150 pieces for her 2001 Drowned World Tour
Two years on and Dsquared had launched their first womenswear collection, gaining further showbiz fans along the way, including Lenny Kravitz
and supermodel Naomi Campbell
, who fronted their 2004 autumn ad campaign. The discovery that their birthday falls the day after Christina Aguilera
's strengthened their celebrity links. The chanteuse made a special guest appearance at their spring 2005 shows - the year they made it big in Milan.
"I don't think they saw us coming," Dan says. "Milan wasn't ready for Dsquared and by the time they noticed, we'd already arrived. We just keep doing what comes naturally."
Other music makers soon got in on the act. Singer Justin Timberlake
wore head to toe Dsquared to pick up a clutch of gongs at the MTV awards in 2007, while the brothers called on R&B sensation Rihanna to head up their ready-to-wear show in Milan that same year.