From a front-row perch at the Institut Français de la Mode show at the start of Paris Fashion Week last Monday, it was obvious the impact that Glenn Martens’s work at Y/Project is having on students.
The ruched and twisted shapes, the sculptural pieces draped from wire—Martens is the index case for each of those trending ideas. That he has managed to simultaneously light up the cheekier, more commercially oriented Diesel brand is a credit to his design chops and hard work.
At the close of Paris today, Martens acolytes and the professionals who hadn’t left town early for fear of a transportation strike witnessed a bumper Y/Project collection, his first on the women’s calendar since before the pandemic.
“The whole idea of this brand is to reinvent techniques, and construction, and to experiment as much as possible. That’s what we like to do,” he said backstage. Though the where-do-the-jeans-end-and-the-boots-begin question is sure to keep construction obsessives guessing, this collection was less oriented around pushing new shapes than it was in pumping up the surface interest of the clothes.
Maybe because he is so well-versed in denim now at Diesel, it was the major leitmotif in this show. There were baggy jeans that buttoned up on themselves and boxy jean jackets and even a faded denim caftan, but the real marvel was how Martens cut the material into thin biomorphic shapes, shredded it, and used it as embroidery—on everything from wool coats to clingy body-con dresses.
A pair of tulle evening gowns, one in blush pink and the other in ivory, were also embellished with denim shapes. They were the most delicate pieces ever to walk down a Y/Project runway. “We just decided to try and do something beautiful,” he said backstage, pointing to the soundtrack, which featured the Handel aria, “Lascia ch’io pianga,” from the opera “Rinaldo,” sung by no fewer than 57 voices, “to kind of remind us that we’re all in this together.”
It wasn’t all sweetness and light, though. The popular body morph looks that Martens made in collaboration with Jean Paul Gaultier has nothing on the sexually suggestive graphics on a trio of looks in this collection. Yep, just as audacious as ever.