The energy at Diesel‘s spring-summer 2023 fashion show was… big. The brand’s creative director, Glenn Martens, claimed that the four inflatable human figures that straddled both each other and the middle of the monumental runway had been certified by Guinness World Records as the largest ever recorded. It was difficult to get an overview, but from my angle they appeared erotically intertwined. That Martens’s invitation came for the second season in a row accompanied by a sex toy – this time a big glass butt plug – further stimulated suspicion that this was their position. Another big statement was the number of people who could attend the show: about 3,000 people had bagged their free tickets online, while a further 1,600 were reserved for students. Most of the 200-ish remaining were there to work or influence. Since his first season at Diesel, Martens has been charged with revitalizing and democratizing Diesel. Fittingly enough, this is partially driven by Renzo Rosso’s ambition to take his company public. Whatever the motivation, this stadium show was powerful evidence of Diesel’s new audience.
Martens said the collection was divided into four chapters: denim, utilitywear, “pop,” and “extravaganza.” He added: “This is my recipe for Diesel; the four ingredients that I insist upon. Because this is only my second show here, and I think we need to keep showing it.” He said one overlying characteristic of the collection was distress: “All of the pieces are ‘imperfect’ through treatment and design. This is something I like, but it also goes back to that democratic instinct. We know Diesel is a brand for anyone who wants to relate, whoever they are, however they feel; everyone is individual and no two people are the same. Plus the piece is supposed to look ‘broken’ so that you can live with it forever – it is unbreakable.” Diesel’s denim expertise was on full display in this offering. It came layered in tulle, interwoven with lace and organza, or spliced into corsetry. The washes and treatments were manifold: Encrusted with croc-print overlays, reverse-sun-faded, garment-dyed into multiple colors. There was denim jersey and knit denim and flocked denim and fringed denim. Utilitywear included a two-tone olive bomber-and-pants menswear look and a long washed cargo dress, plus a series of nomadically postindustrial ragtag jersey ensembles – streetwear for the postapocalypse. Pop delivered acid-toned racer-back or spaghetti-strap minidresses sometimes garlanded with florals and contrast-colored lace. There was a hilarious black leather moto ensemble that seemed like it had previously been made to fit two wearers at once – back to those conjoined figures – before the second wearer had cut himself free to escape. Martens’s Velcro-fastened strap miniskirt returned in silver, as risky as before. A frayed logo jersey tank top and boob tube – both logo-printed and worn over some trompe l’oeil double-bonded denim pieces in black – signaled the extravaganza. This included two exploded bouclé coats made from torn and tufted Diesel-print fabric and a final, triumphantly tattered house-logo-print skirt south of a trucker.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
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