#perturbedwonderful was the hashtag for the Girl, Interrupted video update that introduced the Dsquared² show today. It was a more savory variant on the institutionalized existence than the similarly themed men's show in January because it offered Dean and Dan Caten an opportunity to indulge their love of the endlessly entertaining netherworld of drag. "Tonight I gave the greatest performance of my life," Shirley Bassey wailed at ten o'clock on a Milanese Monday morning. Right there was the very essence of extravagant female camp, in the spirit of the mid-sixties finest slice of lunatic glamour, Valley of the Dolls.
That was definitely the period in which the story had lodged itself. The lavishly trad couture reference of a feathered cape in emerald green duchesse satin over an Empire lined navy column was every La Scala opening rolled into one outfit. But our heroine was in a psych ward, living out a psychotic fantasy, and she paraded her operatic finery while nurses monitored her every move, each of them dressed in abbreviated white leather looks that evoked Courrèges.
If the scenario wasn't as engaging as some of the Catens' past theatrical masterstrokes, it did provide a showcase for their skill as merchants of fabulous fashion pastiche. This was a show that ran in reverse, beginning with gussied-up eveningwear and ending with lingerie. In between, there was a reasonable spectrum of options, from a winning color-blocked shift striped with mink, to a camel cape, to a lacquered green-python miniskirt suit. The over-the-top accessories included extravagant restraints like bejeweled arm braces and collars. Nothing there to disappoint Dean and Dan's following.
But it was actually the complex and witty aural collage of crazy ladies on the soundtrack that left at least some audience members wondering if sonic wizardry isn't the Catens' true calling in life.