Glenn Martens doesn’t do things by halves. Presenting (probably) the biggest fashion show Milan has ever seen today for Diesel, Martens started the week’s proceedings off with a bang. Taking over a basketball arena in the city, this show was open to the public – if you could get your hands on a ticket, that is. After accounting for the usual hundred or so guests, the 4800 tickets available sold out within 90 minutes after being put up for grabs at the beginning of the month – with 1600 specifically reserved for students.
This ethos of openness and democratising fashion was at the core of what Martens wanted to do for this season: “I wanted to open Diesel to the public, to people who may never have been to a show before…that’s what I believe about fashion and the state of mind: everyone can be a part of Diesel”. Fostering a community that felt genuinely excited about fashion again, the decision to open the show to the public both helped to create a spectacle and propelled the idea of the fashion show as a large-scale event.
And that it was – causing gridlock traffic, immaculately dressed crowds and a whole team of security to be involved, Diesel SS23 promised big things. Entering the arena, things only got bigger: stretching across the court-turned-catwalk was the world’s largest inflatable sculpture (verified by the Guinness Book of World Records, no less). Forming huge, interlocking bodies, this was Diesel on crack – and spoke to Glenn Martens’ starting idea that “(the people) deserved a show”.
Things only got all the more dramatic when a 1-minute countdown appeared on the big screens. Diesel was whipping everyone into a frenzy – it almost felt like the beginning of a major gig as opposed to a fashion show. It was clear from what we had already seen as well as the increasing anticipation that this was going to be something else entirely.
The collection itself went back to the brand’s roots in denim – making the material the main subject. We saw a series of looks in bleached, distressed and acid wash denim form the first section of the procession – in which models traversed through the gaps created by the gargantuan inflatable figures’ arms, legs or heads. From proportion-playing with belts, to utilising transparency or hoods, none of these looks scrimped on the details.
This section was a natural progression from Martens’ debut collection for Diesel, which started experimenting with denim and distressing, but who’s standout pieces primarily involved leather. In fact, this process was replicated throughout the show: inklings and starting points from Diesel FW22 were given the space, spectacle (and, let’s face it) budget, to breathe this season. The result? A line-up of runway looks that had the audience swooning, and the internet in meltdown.
As the show progressed, the soundtrack descended into a chorus of heavy breathing interspersed with punchy tech beats – sometimes reaching a crescendo when key looks broke the runway. One of these was a pair of jeans that never made it past the cutting board; huge swathes of black denim formed a square-like structural piece, paired with a D-logo ringer vest.
Speaking of the D-logo – it was back, and in a big way. One of Martens’ strokes of genius with Diesel’s renaissance has been tapping back into this logo. The brand’s iconic 1DR bags, which slap the logo on the front, sell out instantly – leading to them implementing a new pre-order system to manage demand. This season, they returned in a big way, most notably in conjunction with the new metallics. Coming in oil-spill lacquer and yellow gold, they arrived in sizes XXS-XXL and will no doubt continue to sell out when they drop in stores.
The metallic motif also bled into the return of the viral set from last season: a wrap mini-skirt / belt hybrid and micro top that took a good thing and ran with it. Elsewhere, models were airbrushed all-over with metallic paint to match their more commercially-minded metallic tops and skirts in bronze, silvers and blues. If anything, this collection was a lot to take in, in the best way possible: looks kept coming, and there was none of the usual mid-collection lull that has befelled other designers this month.
As Magda commented when we caught up after the show, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” – SS23 was a meteoric ascension in making Diesel the it-brand of the moment. Maximalism, metallics, and magnetism: we were all drawn to the D-shaped light.
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