You don’t often these days hear Bobby Brown on a fashion show soundtrack, but as Glenn Martens might say, that’s “My Prerogative.” The 1988 hit provided the musical backdrop for his fall collection for Y/Project, which was a celebration of individual expression that expanded the brand’s eveningwear repertoire.
“We do what we want, and we really want to have fun, and we don’t really give that much of a s–t about anything else,” the designer said backstage. “The idea is that we really want to show garments. We don’t want to get stuck in all the hype.”
Known for his wide-ranging historical references and experimental constructions, Martens whirled through inspirations ranging from the Middle Ages to the Seventies, using texture and optical effects to inject the looks with more-or-less subtle erotic overtones.
Masculine herringbone wool coats came with deep, folded sleeves that split open to reveal a faux fur lining, while body-hugging dresses were pieced together from latex strips. Trompe-l’oeil HotPants were in fact stirrup leggings made mostly of sheer tulle.
The jewelry left no room for imagination. Naked bodies wrapped around necks and wrists, and dangled from ears. The sculpted pieces were by Stéphanie D’heygere, the designer behind Y/Project’s signature maxi hoops. “It’s kama sutra positions,” Martens explained with a laugh.
The historical nods included botanical prints on a couple of stunning column dresses that wouldn’t look out of place on the Oscars red carpet, while Dutch-Iranian singer Sevdaliza looked regal in a sweeping Renaissance-inspired faux-leather and faux-fur pleated dress.
Martens pointed out that although the brand is best known for its thigh-high ruched boots and oversize denim, it has always produced more upscale looks. “We’ve never been only streetwear,” he remarked.
About those boots: This season’s version came in black PVC and reached all the way to the top of a pair of black pants, worn with a sober buttoned-up striped shirt. Martens noted their construction differed from the Shar-Pei-like scrunched styles he recently produced with Ugg. “It’s a half-moon shape, so by putting it on yourself, it starts becoming a creature,” he said.
Martens could have capitalized on the streetwear boom by churning out hoodies to make a quick buck. Instead, the designer seems intent on pushing his own boundaries. Fashion is a richer place for it.