Contained in the Bizarre and Fantastic World of Glenn Martens’ Y/Undertaking
Lead PictureImages by Paul Phung
With only a day till present time, Y/Undertaking’s inventive director, Glenn Martens, is surprisingly relaxed. Sizzling on the heels of his condom-decked Diesel present, the Belgian designer is fine-tuning a 54-look assortment, persevering with his mission to construct a world cult impressed by craft and customisable-ness. Primarily based on the info, although, his confidence is warranted. Certainly, in case you can convey Diesel again from the lifeless, you are able to do something.
Video calling from the model’s atelier in Paris’ tenth arrondissement, Martens hovers between studio worktables, flipping his digicam to share sneak peeks of the seems to be or jest with fashions and his 20-strong design staff. Regardless of getting into day 35 of his worldwide stint, he’s resolutely chipper, eschewing the fashion-diva entrance.
“The undertone of this season – it’s a bit cliché – is linked to a track from the opera, Rinaldo,” says Martens. Referencing baroque composer George Frideric Handel’s well-known aria, Lascia ch’io pianga and its many interpretations, Martens has constructed a medley of seems to be, every a possible character within the dramatic story. Add to this a soundtrack produced by Senjan Jansen that cobbles collectively over 70 completely different renditions of the lyrics, plus a Nineteenth-century hangar, and you’ve got the recipe for Y/Undertaking Autumn/Winter 2023.
Leaning into this historic theme, the gathering additionally references Martens’ hometown, Bruges, the gothic capital of Belgium. “You’ll be able to actually see the cathedrals of Flemish fields, the enormous balusters,” he says, poring over a vertically reduce, panelled denim two-piece, which unfolds into separated shafts. In addition to these blasts from the previous, Martens’ constructional signatures – sculptural shapes, superimposed materials and off-kilter pattern-cutting – maintain fort, collectively forming a comparatively toned-down providing. A minimum of, by his requirements. Industrial dilution? Removed from it. These towering, angular Canadian tuxedos are something however ‘wardrobe staples’. A maturation of the model, aligned to its subtle and diversified portfolio of shoppers? That’s extra prefer it.
In actual fact, after a decade at Y/Undertaking’s helm, the Antwerp Academy alum has seared his identify into Belgium’s avant-garde, not as soon as resorting to money cows. Logos are scant, value factors are excessive and a lot of the clothes would increase an eyebrow if worn in his personal provincial stomping grounds. However, kudos to Martens, Y/Undertaking has undoubtedly grown from the far darker, insular model he inherited from his late boss and founding designer, Yohan Serfaty, in 2013. “Yohan was a really enigmatic particular person. He appeared like a Tim Burton determine from The Nightmare Earlier than Christmas,” remembers Martens. “The model was very a lot related to his persona. As a employed inventive director, I needed to show it into extra of a home.”
“I feel there’s moments the place I’m a extremely large businessman, moments the place I’m making an attempt to be an artist, and moments after I’m only a grandson, godfather or an annoying membership child” – Glenn Martens
In fact, the seminal codes didn’t vanish – they’ve simply morphed. Below Serfaty, artisanal leather-making was the model’s bread and butter; lately, it’s denim, labored and handled in comparable methods, then honed for drippy dressers, from Rihanna – who co-signed that iconic, bunched Ugg search for Coachella 2018 – to on a regular basis Parisians using the Metro.
“We’re all completely different individuals inside ourselves, aren’t we?” says Martens, lighting a cigarette. “I feel there’s moments the place I’m a extremely large businessman, moments the place I’m making an attempt to be an artist, and moments after I’m only a grandson, godfather or an annoying membership child.” On this manner, Y/Undertaking acts like a sartorial answer to the number of life, taking acquainted motifs, tweaking them after which leaving the wearer so as to add their very own mark. This may imply undoing each popper in your overlayed denim boots for some dishabille stylish, or maybe, it’s a case of eradicating the layer altogether, adopting a sleeker, skeletal method. Both manner, it’s a private reckoning with type, and therein, our id.
Whereas Martens’ work is large on development, it’s nothing with out idea. The designer begins from the latter earlier than contemplating type, which fits a good distance in explaining how he spawns countless designs largely from denim. That stated, this season isn’t all denim. Alongside Westminster-Abbey-style attire in specifically handled denim and denim pants appliquéd with embroidered whiskers, comes a recent bevy of prints.
After engaged on a print-heavy Spring/Summer season 2022 Jean-Paul Gaultier couture assortment in a full-circle second (JPG was Martens’ first employer after graduating), Martens has dabbled additional, bringing trompe l’oeil denim prints, which he dubbed “pretend denim” to A/W23, alongside utterly denim-less prints, comparable to his collaged screenshots of intercourse. The latter is a nod to the intro in Lars von Trier’s Antichrist, additionally soundtracked by Lascia ch’io pianga. “You realize, the scene the place Charlotte Gainsbourg will get banged in sluggish movement and the kid falls via the window … ” says Martens.
Once more, the idea of discovering absurdity in cliché – be it the countless bastardisation of a hallowed aria, a pair of denims, or the passé enchantment of Ugg boots – reveals itself because the fil rouge. Y/Undertaking isn’t reinventing the wheel, it’s simply making it bizarre, uncanny or humorous, chopping it up and stitching it collectively in a extra explosive, conceptual type.