In just 18 months Glenn Martens has turned Diesel into a hot ticket at Milan Fashion Week thanks to his inventive reworking of the 45-year-old label’s denim heritage.
A lot of that inspiration comes from Y/Project, where in the last decade Martens has arguably done more than any other designer to bring high-end craftsmanship to jeans.
His coed collection for the Paris-based label featured an extraordinary range of innovations, from a denim millefeuille bomber jacket to jeans with twisted seams or buttoned panels that enveloped the legs in sculptural folds.
He used slashed and stitched denim as embellishment on items ranging from herringbone coats to a skinny vest dress, where the shredded denim also appeared as a photo print, for a dizzying trompe-l’oeil effect.
“The whole idea of this brand is to reinvent techniques, construction and to experiment as much as possible. That’s really what we love to do,” he said.
“It was the first time I really did a personal collection where I really brought a bit more what we are going through at Y/Project because it’s quite a challenging last few months, and we decided to try and do something beautiful,” he said, without elaborating.
The display was held in a construction site that had guests literally eating dust. In the front row, Estonian rapper Tommy Cash, ensconced in a duvet, staged a surreal performance, applying cucumber slices to his eyes in the middle of the show.
Notwithstanding his antics, there was a poignant feel to the display, enhanced by the soundtrack: George Frideric Handel’s aria “Lascia ch’io pianga,” with each sentence interpreted by a different singer. The song famously featured in the opening scene of Lars von Trier’s “Antichrist,” a reference that Martens said explained the presence of pornographic prints on some outfits.
Provocation has always been part of his register, but the finale gowns, with their sweeping trains trailing in the dust, suggested there’s real salvation in beauty.