Y/Project at Pitti: An anti-social media guest show
If ever there was a fashion collection almost marred by its presentation it has to be the multi-democratic Y/Project show presented as a special guest at Pitti on Wednesday night.
The clothes were unexpected, hyper-functional, intriguing and beautifully bizarre, but shown without any lights in one of the most beautiful squares to come out of the whole Renaissance. Call it Fashion Hades. In such holy ground.
Glenn Martens, the designer of Y/Project, decided to stage his gala show inside the Chiostro Grande di Santa Maria della Novella. But without any – and we mean any – lights.
Martens generously invited literally hundreds of fashion students in Florence to the show, and hundreds more Florentines came as fans. The legendary cloisters were packed well up the walls of the beautifully faded frescos. The ambience of football and a very insider fashion show.
Every guest was given a tiny torch to illuminate the models, marching around the quadrilateral before all lining up like troops in the centre.
“I wanted a democratic show, something inclusive. This was not about social media, but about being live and inclusive,” said designer Glenn Martens in the half-darkness after the show. Nonetheless, it was practically impossible to see the clothes until they gathered in the centre of the cloisters post-show.
Showing as a guest designer at Pitti is the consecration for a fledgling designer. And this Y/Project collection was probably the most innovative we have seen in the Tuscan capital since Haider Ackermann’s debut show here a decade ago.
It is, perhaps, remiss to compare Martens to a predecessor. But one does anyway. Still, what made the collection so compelling was the sheer audacity of the cutting, the angle of the darts, the position of the hems, the sense of stitching and overall mood of being so much, so much, of our time.
The light, leather blouson that billowed like a giant national flag; the absolutely fabulous smudge print and shaggy flight jacket for guys. The brilliant mesh, layered print, silk and cotton top and chiffon tank ensembles and rivulet seamed and ruched trench coats for women.
Add to that a marvellous finale of vertically pleated leather prairie schoolteachers dresses; planes’ boots and femme fatale tops and you had a really great collection.
The lighting however was a truly idiotic junk. Most front-row phone photos would be laughed out of court as evidence, so blurred were the images in veritable Dante-like darkness.
In a word, folie de grandeur in Florence, but also confirmation that Martens is one of the top twenty designers in the world today. And one blessed with staying power.
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