Dean and Dan Caten don't miss a trick when they're putting together a show. Back in the Days, Jamel Shabazz's photographic history of hip-hop, was a starting point, which meant that a barbershop (practically a Harlem community center) was a logical backdrop. And the break-dancers made the point stronger. The Italian fashion industry has all of a sudden turned diversity into a causeas you may have heard, the new issue of Vogue Italia is cover-to-cover black modelsand the Caten twins extended the idea onto their catwalk. They did it not just with the models but also with the sounds and the styles they offered. Anyone who remembers the bad old days in the Catens' hometown of Toronto was transported straight back to the Twilight Zone, a seminal nightspot in the boys' Personal Growth.
The show itself was a very smart re-appropriation of a re-appropriation. The original hip-hoppers sucked up the style of the tennis club and the golf club (Sergio Tacchini, anyone?), and Dean and Dan spat it back out, polo shirts, gym shorts, argyle socks, gold chains, Run DMC's Cazals and all. And every detail was exact, down to the original fit. It was an extraordinary feat of fashion archaeology, but it wasn't an arid exercise at all. (How could it be with Ralphie Rosario and Joyce Sims on the soundtrack?) That's because the precision of the original wild style gelled so neatly with the Catens' own knack for detail. Trackie stripes on a white suit made for a new evening look. A three-piece denim suit looked sharp. So did a safari shorts suit. And maybe it was the context, but the tailored-jacket-collar-and-tie-with-the-sporty-lower-half thing that the Catens have worked for eons looked fresh again.