I can already hear the adulations of High Fashion Twitter screeching in the distance.
While clomping down the uneven pavement in uncomfortable boots toward the Diesel Spring/Summer 2024 show in the pouring rain, I thought about nostalgia. At another show earlier today, the supermodels came out in hordes, no longer on the catwalk, but taking their places front and center on the front row. They have ascended to the heights of celebrity thanks to (first and foremost) their stellar careers, but also to a wash of nostalgia, a certain pining for the happier, more carefree days of yesteryear. We crave nostalgia. It’s comforting. It’s familiar. Its predictability makes us feel secure, like watching the same show over and over again. Gen Z, in particular, loves nostalgia. It's a generation that has been more adept at discovering and recycling trends than any generation before it, which is why the very idea of trends, at this point, is basically dead. The 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, and 00s are all “in” right now.
Diesel, under the steerage of Glenn Martens, has made early aughts nostalgia into a hot commodity. But there’s one thing that we tend to forget about this fraught time in fashion: It was all about sex – a topic the brand doesn’t shy away from, but rather runs towards full sprint. Diesel makes hot clothes for hot people to look hot in. And it doesn’t get much hotter than a parade of scantily clad models on a long suspended red runway. Did we mention they were all dripping wet? The heavens opened over the show and cascaded down – a cosmic wet t-shirt contest.
Every season, Martens has put on a grand spectacle, but this show was his most ambitious yet. Styled like a music festival, some guests were seated on sky-high bleachers, while others flocked to all sides of the center runway stage. There were 7,000 people in attendance. A huge screen counted down 60 seconds to the start of the show, and then a thumping electronic soundtrack, cut with what sounded like slasher-flick screams, was unleashed. I instantly forgot how uncomfortable and wet I was. I was entranced.
The sheer spectacle of the show was jaw-dropping. Add to it the obsessive nature of social media, and lots of wet, nearly naked hot people, and you have yourself a recipe for virality. The clothes were shredded, sheer, and bleached. Denim was done in ways I never imagined possible and manipulated into soft, destroyed cardigans and rigid boot-pants. It was all very racy and cool, but the craftsmanship and engineering of the show’s surfeit of textures was downright beautiful. I honestly don’t know what to make of the models that looked like they had been cast in plaster or turned into the Tin Man (or Woman). All I could think about was whether or not their face paint was running into their eyes because of the rain.
Glenn Martens has, in a very short amount of time, utterly transformed Diesel into one of the coolest, most talked-about brands. He did it by engineering both spectacle and really intriguing clothing, and this show offered heaps of both. I can already hear the adulations of High Fashion Twitter screeching in the distance.
Diesel makes HOT clothes for HOT people to look HOT in.