Glenn Martens is such a charming fellow and so good a designer. How could we not then all jolly along post-show, when he said what he often tends to: “We always try to invite our customers to enjoy the garments and play with them.” Then even Martens realized the record was scratched, and ventured an update: “It’s a bit like Gothic cathedrals, a Flemish vibe… like Bruges.”
Bruges is a tiny, ancient, weirdly beautiful city that never stops looking fresh because it was so madly built—depending on the time of day and the shape of your mood there are new angles of oddity everywhere. So Martens’s simile worked nicely. This stroll through Y/Project, held in the lush garden of an elite Parisian rich-kid school on a raised gravel runway as shocked parakeets dashed above, combined his familiar symphonic weirdness with some stimulating fresh notes.
The basenote remained distorted denim, imprinted with a cheesy Eiffel Tower logo—“it goes all the way up”—that you wondered might be a gentle satire of the rumbustious graphics so favored at the designer’s day job at Diesel until he gently disambiguated that it had been in place here since 2013. There was a whole chapter—chapter 2—of new trompe l’oeil pieces as a second season partnership with Jean Paul Gaultier. Instead of nudes this time the emphasis was on impressing the dressed-down—classic Y/Project jeans and vests and polos—on slips and rib-knits.
There were hilarious flipped-finger earrings and four “evil baby” tops whose drawn-on distended bodies were based on a much-regretted tattoo on a drunk British guy that Martens had met while developing the collection. Possibly the most striking innovation of all—this season’s flying buttress—were the apparently impossible tank tops suspended at the shoulder by nearly invisible wiring.
And yet the central architectural device underpinning all this seasonally-adjusted weirdness remained the malleable wire endoskeletons that allowed tailoring, denim, and alien eveningwear to be distorted into shockwave shapes. Like Bruges, it is worth revisiting again and again.