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August 30 2014

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Glenn Martens’ Basic Instincts

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Glenn Martens

Since launching his visually minimal but technically complex womenswear line back in 2012, Belgian-born, Paris-based designer Glenn Martens has steadily begun to make a name for himself. His clean, architectural clothes exude a quiet strength, and the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp-trained talent understands just how to hit the sweet spot between strict and feminine. Unfortunately, Martens’ eponymous label is no more. But that’s only because last November, he was tapped to head up Y. Project—a high-end menswear line founded by Yohan Serfaty in 2010.

After cutting his chops at Jean Paul Gaultier (where he worked on menswear) and Bruno Pieters, Martens was hired by Serfaty as his first assistant four years ago. And when Serfaty, who was known for his slick use of luxury leathers, passed away last year, Martens, now 30, was brought on to continue his legacy. “It’s very emotional,” said Martens of filling his mentor’s shoes. “But he really helped me to understand the vision of his brand, and I’m doing this out of respect for everything that he had done before.”

Tomorrow in Paris, Martens will unveil his first menswear lineup for the house. With its classic denim jackets, workwear pants, sharp leather jackets, embellished T-shirts, and origami pocket details, the collection promises to honor Serfaty’s signature rough aesthetic. But Martens is bringing something new to the table, too: Y. Project’s inaugural womenswear capsule, which he plans to expand into a full twenty-plus-look collection by the time February’s ready-to-wear shows roll around. “I enjoy doing menswear,” offered Martens. “But womenswear was my first love, and I think it will make a good statement for the new era of Y. Project.”

Debuting exclusively here ahead of its trip down the Paris catwalk, the androgynous capsule was inspired in part by previous Y. Project collections, in part by Martens’ obsession with construction (he studied architecture before joining the fashion game), and in part by Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct. “She’s a real woman,” said Martens of his Fall customer. “You don’t want to mess with her.”

There’s definitely a tough-girl vibe about Martens’ stretch leather tops, dark palette, and sharp geometric trousers and jackets. But there’s something seductive about these looks, too. “You can be sensual without wearing ‘pretty’ clothes,” Martens said. His bold breed of sex appeal comes via ingenious layered panels and slits. Take, for instance, the above pair of fluid, pleated trousers. Thanks to some cleverly placed slices, “they explode the moment you start walking,” showing just the right amount of flesh. “Yohan designed womenswear a bit in the eighties, and he always wanted to do it for his own line,” said Martens. “And I really feel like his fingers are still in this collection.” If the preview is any indication, Martens has done Serfaty proud.

Photo: Courtesy Photo

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