Canadian twins Dan and Dean Caten have been in business 20 years now (hardly seems possible), so it wasn’t out of reach to expect some big, awesome blowout to celebrate with their autumn/winter ready-to-wear show this morning. After all, they’re rather known for their lavish runway sets.
Instead, they went back to their roots, simple and stylish, starting with a set that consisted simply of a broad, twisting, white staircase from which descended a line of models that looked well equipped to handle a winter in Calgary, or even Saskatchewan. There’s no question that this collection is going to keep one warm. If anything, one may need to peel off some layers for European temperatures that are hovering just below 60 degrees today. However, the looks would fit in nicely with the weather in the Midwest this week.
What one notices first in this collection is the heavy use of layering, even in multiples of the same device. The opening look contained three vests, one on top of the other, in addition to a shirt and a bodysuit paired with white cargo pants. So it went throughout the presentation. I don’t think there was a single look that had fewer than three layers and most came in at four or five. While all that might sound a bit bulky, the brothers have managed to keep it looking good by making sure the pieces are of varying length and weight. Not everything is frightfully heavy, so layers like this don’t have to be suffocating.
Another strong theme running throughout is the tribal patterns inherent to native North American peoples. This plays out in two primary ways. One is a flesh colored bodysuit and/or leggings (depending on the look) with a tribal design resembling henna tattoos. Given the label’s current popularity with the alt crowd, I see no reason for those bodysuits to stay on the shelves more than five minutes. Who says tattoos have to be permanent when one can simply wear them on their clothes? The second aspect is in the uncharacteristically heavy use of fur throughout the collection. Granted, use of fur is authentic for the Northern tribes and when used with pieces such as any of the incredible parkas we saw it is difficult to object too strongly. I fully expect that a fair amount of the fur is faux anyway, but I couldn’t get a quick confirmation either way on that. Where the fur isn’t exactly authentic is in pieces such as a fur-lined bustier or the cuffs of cropped pants. While the look is attractive, it would be difficult to justify on any level the use of real fur for those pieces.
There is also a nod to the military explorers who charted the Northern territories. We see several takes on an Admiral’s coat and a couple of times we even see the cross-belt look of 19th century French and British militaries. The co-mingling of the military with native looks is interesting and, when layered as they were for this morning’s show, work well together. Some caution should be given, though, to just haphazardly tossing these pieces together. I can easily see some street style disasters if one is not careful.
For the most part, everything in this collection is a win. The one stylistic choice I would question would be the occasional use of open-toed strappy heels. Given how the clothes themselves are designed for the harshest of winter conditions, it doesn’t seem to make sense that one would pair those looks with a shoe that guarantees frostbite. Fortunately, most the looks were shown with the brothers’ take on fur lined muck lucks that are much more appropriate for the weather.
Given how cold the past two winters have been in North America, I think the twins definitely have a strong-selling collection within that market. Europe, for the most part, hasn’t seen such severe temps, though, and much of Asia and the Middle East never do. So while it’s easy to sit in what currently feels like frozen tundra and say this is a great collection may not generate quite the enthusiasm elsewhere. Still, it was nice to see the brothers present a collection that feels more Canadian for a change. This is an aesthetic to which I think buyers respond well.