Guests arriving at the Diesel show during Milan Fashion Week on Wednesday may have been surprised by the set: a giant pile of condoms. The Italian brand unveiled its Fall/Winter 2023 collection amid more than 200,000 Durex boxes, hinting at both sex positivity and an upcoming collaboration with the birth control company.
“We love playing Diesel and we take it seriously,” said Creative Director Glenn Martens. “Have fun, respect each other, be safe.”
Indeed, the entire collection touched on the themes of freedom, pleasure and experimentation, with models strutting around an avalanche of condoms in ultra-low-rise jeans, denim with sheer mesh lace inserts and tattered silk dresses held together by unreliable-looking chains. The accompanying techno soundtrack was punctuated by explicit moaning sounds, reinforcing the message that Martens was looking to push boundaries.
A model in a silk dress with draped chains on the catwalk. Credit: Victor Virgil/Gamma Rafo/Getty Images
Taking over as Creative Director in October 2020, the Belgian designer guided Diesel, long known for its provocative marketing and luxury jeans aesthetic, to a more experimental use of denim. He also played with upcycling. Only this collection used remnants of nylon that were coated with a different kind of plastic and heated faux fur from a dead herd, dyed to look almost liquid, and biker jackets that were blowtorch fired and turned into structural elements.
A look from the Diesel Fall/Winter 2023 collection. Credit: Victor Virgil/Gamma Rafo/Getty Images
And, of course, he made Diesel’s set design something of a fashion week talking point.
In February 2022, when Martens returned to the runway after the pandemic, the label greeted attendees with five inflatable models who struck a series of daring poses that Diesel described as “confident, exuberant and proud.” Each was modeled after a real person and was 25 to 55 feet wide. Invitations to the show included edible red and white candy thongs.
Then, for its Spring/Summer 2023 presentation last September, Diesel installed a huge inflatable sculpture that was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s largest inflatable sculpture. (The label also invited the public to attend the show, violating Fashion Week’s exclusive rules of hosting a whopping 5,000 people.)
Models walk past a “mountain” of bright red boxes of condoms. Credit: Victor Virgil/Gamma Rafo/Getty Images
The “mountain” of condoms, as Diesel described it, has become another viral moment under Martens – a move that promotes both the label’s new collection and safer sex. In keeping with the theme, invitations were sent out in the form of Durex packs, and a post-show press release announced that Diesel would be distributing an additional 300,000 condoms in its stores worldwide in April. One jersey tee spotted on the runway on Wednesday also hinted at what’s to come: Diesel’s classic “D” logo has been replaced with a Durex “D”.
Top image caption: Diesel Presentation Kit.