WWD was the first to report on Jan. 15 that the Belgian designer behind Paris-based Y/Project, and also the creative director of Diesel, would follow Sacai’s Chitose Abe as its second guest couturier.
It will be something of a homecoming for Martens. In 2008, he staged his graduate show at Antwerp’s Royal Academy of Fine Arts and Gaultier recruited him as junior designer for his women’s pre-collection and the G2 men’s label.
“Glenn Martens has proven that he has the necessary creativity for adapting to the mind-set of various ready-to-wear labels, all while developing his own,” Gaultier said. “I can’t wait to see what he has in store for our spring 2022 haute couture line in January.”
This will be Martens’ first stab at high fashion. It’s a chance to interpret Gaultier’s vast and eclectic design vocabulary and to take advantage of his atelier’s know-how with tailoring and elaborately embellished flou.
“Jean Paul Gaultier has really opened its doors to young creators inspired by the house’s work, whether directly or indirectly. It’s a brand that creates a kind of fellowship,” Martens said. “The way they celebrate difference and openness has helped people both in France and farther afield to move beyond clichés. I am proud to be a part of that tradition.”
One of France’s most iconic and popular fashion figures, Gaultier retired from the runway in January 2020 and had the idea of inviting different designers to interpret his couture.
Sacai’s Abe was first last July, although that show was postponed twice due to the coronavirus pandemic. The guest-designer strategy spills over into the Gaultier house’s new approach to rtw hinged on drops that could involve one or several invited creatives, and/or rely on the in-house design team.
Based in Paris, Martens has maintained a steady buzz around Y/Project since arriving at its creative helm in 2013. He joined Diesel last October.
The designer likes to tumble together disparate references, from classical tailoring to streetwear to offbeat historical references, including Flemish Old Masters. He is also known for his avant-garde silhouettes that incorporate exaggerated and twisting volumes.
According to the Gaultier house, Martens’ work “resonates clearly with Gaultier’s DNA as an avant-garde, experimental aesthetic, constantly oscillating between masculine and feminine; between art and architecture,” noting that the designer will “explore his obsessions with materials, embroideries, volumes and expertise, while honoring the slower pace required for this new creative exercise.”
Martens likened couture creations to art. “It goes beyond ready-to-wear; beyond clothing,” he said. “With Gaultier, I want to celebrate my love for movement and versatility, but using more architecturally structured silhouettes.”
His one-off collection will be under the moniker “Gaultier Paris by Glenn Martens from Y/Project” and unveiled at Gaultier headquarters for the spring 2022 season.