It feels as if fashion is getting younger every season: so when the curtain flew back on the always monolithic set at DSquared2 and revealed a classroom, it seemed a logical conclusion to a frantic push to turn back time. For Dean and Dan Caten, despite the song lyrics school is most definitely in for Autumn/Winter 2012. Well, in and 'out' - their show notes directly referenced the repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' which to the chagrin of many a sheepish male model has been something of an undercurrent this Milan menswear season. Think of Jil Sander's ode to Robert Mapplethorpe via Tom of Finland and Donatella Versace's Rhinestone Rent boys if you need proof. Hence DSquared2's school was a campy military academy, and the models marched out two-by-two in perfectly coordinated couples for the show's finale.
That's enough about the seasoning, what was there to say about the meat-and-potatoes of this offering? Not a great deal. We've seen these garments more times than we've had hot dinners: distressingly over-processed denims, waxed cotton barbour-style jackets and a few stiff-n-starchy shirt and suit combos for the good boys sat at the front of the class. DSquared2 have done all this before. But contrary to the rest of menswear's bigwigs who relish the chance to button men into double-breasted suits and hefty overcoats, winter generally isn't the Catens' season. They're much more comfortable stripping their boys down than dressing them up, hence why this parade of predominantly casual clothing struck something of a bum note in a season dedicated to dressing up, and the reclamation of Le Smoking as man's best friend after 6pm.
DSquared2, however, are in a rare and privileged position. They have a hardcore cadre of fans who ask for nothing new - just the same cheekily cliched puns across a few t-shirts, some skinny, over-detailed jeans and a big-top, three-ring circus catwalk spectacular. In fact, the one thing they're not looking for is for Dean and Dan to rock the boat. In that respect, this show was a sure-fire, simple-minded hit.