Dean and Dan Caten may be Canadian, but the heart of DSquared2 is undoubtedly Italian: hot-tempered, red-blooded, and not a tiny bit subtle. Just look at their latest collection - a rip-roaring extravaganza of camp showmanship, opening with Carmen Kass (and her negative-straddle) poured into latex knickers and a black fur-tufted wool suit so tight it had split open along the front seam. No, wait, that was just the split in the skirt, and the plunging neckline on that glove-tight jacket. The dominatrix, it seems, is back as one of the schizophrenic fashion options for Autumn/Winter 2010, and if DSquared2 didn't offer the definitive version, they certainly tinkered with all the requisite accoutrements.
This wasn't about avant-garde sex-shop references - it was about sex, full stop. The Caten's vision had a heavy, heady dose of Italian machismo and pizzaz, with tightly-wrought, firm-shouldered suit, pencil skirt and popped-peplum, in every texture of velvety black. The trussed-up, laced-in references to sadomasochism were there, with chunky silver zips savagely slashing dresses and skirts open at the back, alongside silver eyelets and leather cord corseting suiting shut along the seams. These aesthetic tricks chime with the Frankenstein (meets Frank-n-Furter) laboratory backdrop - and the 'Anatomical Atelier' the Catens quote in their show notes was also echoed in some of the collections more visceral window-dressing, such as curving heels seemingly crafted from vertebrae, glistening 'wounds' crusted in red crystal and a tracery of embroidered red-and-blue veins on nude tulle.
These are textbook shock-tactics, alongside the abundance of skin-tight latex and cleverly cleaved calfskin wrapped like cling-film around the model's limbs, but ironically there was plenty to wear in DSquared2's display. Case in point - over the top of that lymph node-detailed fleshy silk was a strapless, belted wool mini-dress that could easily be transported to a cocktail hour anywhere outside of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Likewise a trench cleverly mixing wool with leather, and a few architectural-detail dresses with firm bodices and ruched skirts. The closing numbers - all glitter and coque-feather razzmatazz worthy of an opening night in Las Vegas - were fun, crowd-pleasing spectacle. Nevertheless, for all the showboating I couldn't help but notice that a few chubby fox coats with sophisticated strapless dresses - and many of those superb and supremely desirable black suits - could have waltzed straight off a Valentino catwalk. For an Italian-based (if not born) brand, that is a high compliment indeed.