Corporate slogans are usually empty rhetoric. So bravo to Diesel—“Only The Brave”—for showing serious courage by throwing its show in the middle of a free outdoor rave for 7,000 people—just at the very moment Milan’s skies were due to open.
Glenn Martens’s gamble seemed to have gone south when the forecast proved right. As the first models came out in his artisanal-industrial shredded and devoré denim outfits, the rain started to slice with gusto through the spotlit area above the 150-foot runway that stretched long into the huge crowd. Happily that crowd, which had been enjoying an NTS-programmed DJ line-up for nearly four hours already, barely flinched: from the bleachers at the back to the sea of phone-wielders under the big screen runway backdrop, they stayed to dance to Senjan Jansen’s uncompromising soundtrack and check out Marten’s designs.
Martens mentioned that the free tickets that had been made available online—first to 1,500 students from Milan’s universities, then to all comers—had been snapped up in minutes. After tonight’s fiesta (which, crucially, was liberally supplied with free gin courtesy of Bulldog), the huge old Scalo Farini rail yard space (where Alessandro Michele used to show Gucci) will remain open to all for several days to show films including Mulholland Drive, Fight Club, Spirited Away and Wall-E in a five-movie-a-day free screening marathon.
“It’s about togetherness,” said Martens. “It’s about bringing people together for an analogue moment.” Despite those analogue ambitions, and the handsome Yashica disposable film camera that acted as an invitation, the Diesel team must have felt gratified to see the sea of glowing cameras raised towards the runway as the models walked through the rain.
The movie program was the cue for looks that incorporated schlockily fun, Dieselized parodies of old-school movie posters for titles including Spice World and Batman on some of the garments. These were distressed, acid-washed and double layered, printed on opaque cottony fabric above jersey. Close fitting ruched jersey or lurex dresses, some of them traced with the external outline of underwear, acted as loose human pastiche of the Oscars statuette. Destroyed tuxedos, half red carpet and half apocalypse, were the masculine counterpoint.
A series of looks for men and women were built of shredded jersey layered over sheer fabric to create a peeling paint effect. Last season’s denim layered under polyester section was developed to add a velvet finish, sometimes printed with florals or camouflage. What appeared to be hyper-tactical pants were in fact collaged fanny packs draped down each leg, worn with undershorts. Artisanal pieces included dresses handmade in shredded denim or burned mesh. Several models were caked in grayish ochre mud—good for the complexion—that matched the tone of their looks. Despite the rain this remained firmly in place. Amusing accessories included big-D bike-helmet baseball caps.
As the last model walked, statuette-esque in a flowing black silk skirt and bralette/scarf combo, the rain suddenly cleared. The finale—and then four more hours of partying—followed. This was a brave show that paid off handsomely.
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This article was originally published on Vogue.com.