Diesel Fall/Winter 2023 runway show in Milan was set around an avalanche of 200,000 Durex condom boxes promoting a culture of safe sex and sex positivity. Glenn Martens calls the collection “More condensed and concentrated, more grown up, fun and strong and playful.”
If anyone still had doubts about Glenn Martens understanding the assignment he’s been given at Diesel, the fall 2023 show swept all of them away.
Since taking the creative helm at the brand, the designer brought denim back; the pop, MTV-heydays back; the fun, irreverence and — most importantly — hype back. It was only time he pulled a Justin Timberlake-trick out of his hat, bringing the sex(y) back once for all, too.
If he toyed with the idea with his low-rise jeans and short hemlines from the beginning of his tenure, this season he got quite literal by partnering with Durex on a capsule collection to be released in April. The easy jersey separates combining the condom company’s name with the D logo or fittingly retooling the brand’s motto into “For Sucsexful Living” will be flanked by an initiative promoting safe sex that will see Diesel distributing half a million condoms for free across its global stores.
“It’s very important to live your life, have fun, be sex positive but respect each other….It’s the sex attitude of the brand, too, being straightforward but always respectful,” Martens said during a preview.
The first 200,000 condom boxes were on display at the show, amassed in an installation around which the models paraded. The set-up made for a conversation topic but it didn’t overshadow the strong collection Martens created.
Hammering on the three pillars of his vision at Diesel — denim in all forms, utilitarian inflections and pop aesthetics — as well as a fourth, the more artisanal touch he spotlights in his runway shows, Martens further developed the themes he introduced last season.
Freedom, pleasure, experimentation, play: Diesel stands for democracy, choice and sex positivity as a human right.
“I always push myself into be like ‘less stories, but deeper into stories’ and I think we did that quite well,” Martens said while detailing how what started as denim interwoven on organza for spring was maximized in its distressed effects for fall 2023. Cue the first segment of the show, which was rich in denim pants, long skirts and dresses dissolving in transparencies to cheekily show different parts of the body.
The same raw vibe ran throughout in different forms, ranging from post-apocalyptic laser-cut jersey minidresses and hoodies to double-layered separates revealing prints and textures underneath, as seen in a shearling denim jacket or metal Diesel lettering surfacing from a leather biker.
Experimentation climaxed with deadstock biker jackets undergoing oxidation or blow-torched treatments, or with leftover nylon linings and painted faux furs covered in plastic and heated up to create sculptural garments.
The finale came in the form of pop prints of close-ups of faces and “smiles with way too many teeth,” which further lifted the already upbeat mood.