New Reality. Y/Project Resort 2021 + Men’s SS21

Business really isn’t as usual in the times of COVID-19 (and even in the “post” moment that’s now in Europe). Traditionally, end of June and beginning of July is the the moment for all the resort and men’s collections, and in general this time of the year is a sort of “summer September” of fashion. But not entirely in 2020. Showroom visits for the press and buyers are done via Zoom only. Majority of collections feel very safe and are based on the brand’s signatures. Still, some of the line-ups impress, and moreover, appear to be some of the best work coming from the designer in a while. Glenn MartensY/Project is a great example of how crisis and chaos can bring new ideas and trigger a kind of brand evolution. Martens’ innovatively constructed, apparently woozily skewed garments whose conventional templates are drawn from across the demographic landscape of womenswear and menswear, are brain-bending at first glimpse, and often only make sense upon second look. “Obviously, these looks are distorted, and that is part of the fun of the brand. But most of them you can wear calmed down. Have you seen the video?”, he told Vogue. This season, instead of holding a menswear fashion show, Martens worked to create a video show-and-tell for Y/Project newbies that he said was partially inspired from the opening scene of Dangerous Liaisons, in which Glenn Close is laboriously installed into her pannier dress. Here Martens and two colleagues show how looks from these jointly digitally presented collections can be worn; take a fitted, ruched-body womenswear jacket, pull a drawstring, and – ta-da! – you have a full-length dress. Or reach into the innards of a louchely cut suit and – voilà! – you have a double-layered look with a new denim foundation. Martens concluded: “It’s a kind of lava lamp of looks… showing how you can personalize your clothes and how you can make it look as crazy as you want or you can tone it down as much as you want.” The collections here are around a third the size of a normal-times Y/Project offering, and Martens said that the restrictions of lockdown meant that many of the pieces were hewn from deadstock. The collection includes past designs that have been redesigned and upgraded to be even more twisty the second time around. This is a virtue, as is that distorted adaptability that is at the core of Martens’s work – for what could be more sustainable than a single garment that you can wear in a multitude of ways? Also, as the press was informed, Martens discussed Evergreen, which is the title of a new all-sustainable collection of core Y/Project pieces that will start with a launch of 16 pieces online in September, and then be added to going forward. “It’s a selection of garments, which I believe can go into your wardrobe forever. And we also decided to only make them in the most basic materials which are not at all oriented to a season, so it’s really black, white, and denim.” These garments are not “basics” – the initial lineup includes Y/Project’s much-socialed, super-skimpy, jean/panty “janty” hybrid – and bear all the usual twisty codes of Martens’s design-eye, including rotating-collar shirts and hoiked-shoulder blazers. Looking forward to see it!

Collages by Edward Kanarecki.

Twists And Turns. Y/Project AW20

Y/Project‘s creative director Glenn Martens is known to walk the tightrope between good taste and bad, usually pulling from a grab bag of wide-ranging pop cultural and historical references. In his hands, fashion moments from the early 2000s can easily bump up against those from the 1500s. The designer has borrowed from the architecture of Elizabethan armor to refigure the classic blue jean in the past, and for autumn-winter 2020 he took that risqué, deep-V silhouette into more refined territory. His version of a classic tuxedo was elongated along the body, with a blazer turned bodysuit that fit neatly between each suspended trouser leg (as Martens explained, a hidden belt and secret cycling shorts were responsible for the floating effect on these pants). In Y/Project’s collections, it’s the subtle twists and turns that stand out the most. Martens has perfected his askew approach to tailoring, as evidenced in the sleek opening look. But in general, it seems to me that Martens’ work starts to get repetitive: it used to spark more intrigue in his previous seasons. Maybe it’s just a phase.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Men’s – Fashion Fun. Y/Project AW20

The huge pit packed with orange baloons inside of Y/Project‘s runway had a message: fashion is fun. For the label’s autumn-winter 2020 menswear and pre-fall 2020 womenswear, Glenn Martens wanted to bring on optimism that comes with dressing up. Martens distorts his clothing, amplifying details and suppressing others with a wit and invention that really surprises the eye. This season these distortions included a clash of Elizabethan corsetry against corporate dressing and duvet, winter-sportswear (a collaboration with Canada Goose is coming!). Disemboweled suiting saw strips of satin, sometimes black, sometimes shades of blushy pink, beautifully meshed and promoted to the exterior, a technique carried over into a contoured minidress for women. Martens, as usual, does exciting and far from obvious texture combinations, from mohair knits to heavy velvets. A white lined women’s denim shirt and skirt were mind-bogglingly beaten, twisted, and whipped into what resembled a piece of wearable art. There must be some paranormal force standing behind Glenn’s organic, fluid-like silhouettes.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Y/Project SS20

Glenn Martens of Y/Project is a virtuoso of distorting, elongating, deconstructing and, simply speaking, creating silhouettes that at the same time have a historical twist. Many of the spring-summer 2020 looks jumped in time: the 1890s black satin evening dress, the bustle now transplanted to the plunging décolleté; the 1930s lingerie boudoir slip, buttons slithering down on the bias, with lace trimming the bust; Belle Epoque velvets clashed with 2019’s love for exaggerated forms. Eveningwear is big this season at Y/Project, also because it brings a strong female sexuality. The daywear was classic Glenn Martens: a voluminous trench coat, a shirt-dress with an odd collar, a mint track-suit draped in a way that it looks couture.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Men’s – Beauty in Distortion. Y/Project SS20

Glenn Martens loves distorting volumes at Y/Project, and it’s an in-house signature coming each season from the brand. But this season, twisting, elongating, bending and deforming proportions of garments resulted in flowing, organic, even beautiful silhouettes. The tailored jackets and coats were turned inside on themselves. Chevron stitching on knits pointed downward past the double-zippered fanny packs to the super tightly fitted leggings below. Country wax and workwear jackets seemed to be violently grabbed at the collar and pulled upward. It’s quite incredible what Martens and his team do to their clothes, they sort of defeat physics. Womenswear was as well rotating around a similar idea of self-mutating garments, but it really surprised in case of fabrics that were used. Would you ever think of lace at Y/Project? The over-sized, black button-down dress worn over a beige shirt made of the same lace reminded me of Prada autumn-winter 2008, where Miuccia as well layered lace. But of course in a whole different way… Y/Project doesn’t stop to excite.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Reworked Glamour. Y/Project AW19

Similarly to this season’s Paco Rabanne, Y/Project was ‘overfilled’ – but in a good way (even if this sounds strange). Glenn Martens took the old school glamour archetypes, reworked them, and delivered something pretty much madly fashion. He jumped from a superchic tweed coat with faux fur and Turkish rug inserts to a long black satin skirt draped up from a pair of deconstructed pants. A pistacchio kimono coat-dress? Yes. A voluminous jacket with an A-shaped skirt that reminded you of weaved chairs that are all over the Parisian caffes? YES. The closing, XXL gown was so extravagantly billowy that you really wish to see it on the red carpet (Rihanna, take a look!). Martens likes to take risks. Also, he seems to be one of the few designers in Paris who really dare.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Men’s – Fire at Pitti Uomo. Y/Project AW19

It’s just the beginning of 2019, and we’re already talking about a fashion week. While men’s London fashion week simply seemed to be there, somewhere in the background – with such exceptions as Charles Jeffrey Loverboy’s phenomenal spectacle – the new season takes a more interesting path in Italy, in Florence specifically. Pitti Uomo invited Y/Project, the Paris-based label nailing modern-day nonchalance, to present its collection in Tuscany’s magical capital. Glenn Martens took his guests to the Cloister Grade of Santa Maria Novella, and the result was… fire. Indeed, Martens mastered his distinct touches, like distorted proportions, too-short-here-too-long-there volumes and texture clashes to a perfection of its kind, and we know it looking at his previous collections. But the autumn-winter 2019 outing for guys (and pre-fall 2019 for women) goes darker than usual, even slightly dramatic I would say. And we’re not speaking about couture-ish embroideries and ball-gowns. No. But the way the designer tailors a trench-coat, shapes a velvet jacket or elongates a chunky knit is extremely vivid. Those garments leave and breathe! And Glenn evidently experiments with that feeling of clothes in motion. I also loved how Martens injected this flea-market edginess to his new season offering: (faux) fur stoles and floor-sweeping coats looked like stolen from your grandma, while hand-picked Persian rugs were worn as belts and scarves. The vocabulary of Y/Project grows, but  you’re well aware that it’s the same soul. Whether it’s in a off-beat, Parisian location or in one of Florence’s most exquisite churches.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Chic. Y/Project SS19

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Glenn Martens took the word ‘chic’ and completely dissected it in his spring-summer 2019 line-up for Y/Project. The term can be understood (or rather misunderstood) in many ways. One of the most common is the ‘Parisian chic’ that became a catchy phrase for high street brands to sell stuff, and a magical spell for influencers (that very likely end up with writing a book on style). But Martens abandoned that sort of path and proposed a totally different sort of chic. It’s lady-like and eccentric, but smoothly relates to his love for silhouette distortion and streetwear. So, we had everything: from denim panties and the over-sized, tie-dyed denim ensemble to a very couture-ish tailored pinstripe dress and emerald-green gown styled with a glamorous feather-like boa. Martens’ chic isn’t neither casual-to-the-bone or conservative. It plays with those two stereotypical notions, shaping something a bit hilarious and totally relevant. Both, a young and elderly person will look equally good in those attention-catching garments. Glenn agrees: chic isn’t one thing. And I think that’s really, really… chic.

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Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Men’s / Trailblazing. Y/Project SS19

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It’s complicated. With Y/Project, you have this certain feeling when you look at the label’s clothes. Take denim pants or a shirt. They do reminiscent pants and a shirt, but then… not exactly. This season, Glenn Martens surprised with a wrapping technique featuring nylon and lycra stretched atop any garment, which can be effortlessly taken off or put on at any moment. Depends on to what extent you want to sophisticate your outfit. It wouldn’t be Martens’ work if the collection didn’t mess with proportions: deliberately too much of fabric near the crotch, not enough near the torso. Those aren’t easy clothes – but who said they should be? Y/Project intrigues with colour combinations, as well. From wine burgundy and baby pink to soft lilac and rusty yellow, there’s not much in common, nothing really works together. And again – it somehow does! The women’s capsule is equally confusing, but appealing as well. Those denim high-rise shorts over pink tights made a stir in the social media yesterday. Glenn Martens is not a guy that desperately seeks controversy, but his clothes nearly always provoke. Love it. At least, not everyone considers menswear a shallow sport trend outlet.

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Collage by Edward Kanarecki.