MILAN — “It’s a new leaf, a new moment, a new experience,” said Dan Caten during an exclusive walkthrough of Dsquared2’s newly revamped Milan flagship, which opens today.
“We love it, there is a new energy and we are superexcited,” echoed his twin Dean Caten. Together, the brothers have built the brand into a business that last year reached sales of 255 million euros, including licenses for eyewear, children’s wear and underwear, up by 20 million euros compared with 2016.
The Catens are also experiencing a new phase in their career, as they are more involved in the management of the company they founded in 1995, following the abrupt exit of longtime chief executive officer Gianfranco Maccarrone last September. The post remains vacant, but the designers appear in no hurry to fill it.
“We are in a really good moment; we have a consulting team, very prepared, and this is an eye-opening experience as we are getting in touch with every one of our 250 employees,” said Dan Caten.
“We’ve been growing; this is all very positive and we see things in a different light. We enjoy running the company, discussing production, talking to accountants — it takes a lot to put it all together, but everybody feels they are being noticed; people feel respected, that they are part of something, not just a number,” mused Dean Caten. “You can talk to the boss whenever you want,” he said with a laugh. “We are spending more time here, but it’s all worthwhile,” he added, referring to the fact that they are mainly based in London.
The Catens, both in great spirits and chatty, referred to the Milan flagship as their “first child,” because it was the first global store that opened 11 years ago. While the previous concept harked back to their Canadian background and roots, the store now is a tribute to Milan, they said. Conceived with longtime go-to architectural firm Storageassociati, the boutique, located on Via Verri 4, is a few steps away from tony shopping street Via Montenapoleone, and covers 4,860 square feet. It was completely overhauled, with the entrance configured as a large hall of a Milanese residential home. The main entrance features very large iron-colored double doors with eight large brass portholes.
The architects designed each furniture piece for the store, and the areas of the space are defined in terms of colors and fabrics, each room different and in tune with the merchandise displayed. The unit juxtaposes a variety of luxurious marbles, aqua-green tiles and carpets with cement and aluminum. Lacquered wood and brass contrast with rough stones and unfinished plaster, and the color palette ranges from intense burgundy to powder pink or dove gray, for example. As the customer proceeds through the different spaces, the last room has a more industrial look, with louder music, as it is dedicated to denim, displayed in a glass case, and to T-shirts.
The store highlights how much the Dsquared2 collections have grown, noted architect Michele Pasini, of Storageassociati. His colleague Barbara Ghidoni said the designers really wanted to “overturn the concept of the space, changing it completely while keeping it recognizable.” The flagship has elements of Milanese design from the Thirties to the Sixties, with homages to architect Carlo Scarpa, for example. Pasini noted that the store also reflects the designers’ irony, which characterizes their fashion. “It’s fun and fresh,” he said.
While certain ideas could be adapted for other stores, the designers, who declined to disclose the investment in the renovation, believe this is a unit that characterizes the city and that it should be kept exclusive to Milan. There are 70 Dsquared2 stores globally.
The designers have been working on their omnichannel distribution and communication and the flagship is part of that strategy. Dsquared2 is relaunching its web site on March 15, operated by the Yoox Net-a-porter Group, and created by integrated creative agency Wednesday. The brand’s e-commerce sales total 40 million euros, including all platforms. Revenues generated only by the Dsquared2 site total 14.5 million euros. Germany, followed by the U.S., France and the U.K., are the main online markets.
Also designed by Storageassociati, the Catens have opened Ceresio 7 Guest House, in the building that houses their restaurant and gym and near their headquarters. “We did a small get-together for Mert [Alas] and Marcus [Piggott] the day of our show [in January],” said Dan Caten, adding that the two photographers have shot the fall 2018 campaign with Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid. The designers have opted for the coed format, but will present the women’s collection by appointment at the Guest House during Milan Fashion Week later this month.
Covering three floors and 5,382 square feet, with a 1,937-square-foot terrace, the venue features a grand staircase in sage green silk velvet with black wood and brass banister against walls entirely covered in pivoting mirrors at the entrance. There is a majestic chandelier that previously hung in the Hall of the Central Train Station in Milan, rising above a grand piano.
On the ground level, floors are in black slate, and silk rugs mark out the two main areas, a bar on the left and a library on the right. An alcove is lined with hand-painted and embroidered silk wallpaper, nestling a giant sofa in ivory velvet and satin.
The luxurious venue comprises three bedrooms, a kitchen and nine fireplaces, and the Catens can offer service from the restaurant’s chef.