Chic. There, I said it. Did a shiver just run up and down your spine, and from there into the darkest recesses of your soul? It’s one of fashion’s most divisive words—up there with cool, and just as revered or as verboten, depending on your viewpoint. Let’s not ask Glenn Martens of Y/Project what he thinks about it, but whether he intended it or not, Martens’s Spring 2019 collection was just that: Chic, chic, chic. (Did you just shiver, Glenn? Sorry if you did!) The wide pants from the front that morphed into a sweeping skirt at the back? Yep. The couture-y double-layered tracksuit jacket? Yep, again. The closing duo of glorious slippery satin bias-paneled evening dresses with their ever-so-slightly off-kilter proportions? Most definitely.
Okay, let’s take the time to qualify that. Chic has been brought back into common parlance by the Spring 2019 collections, where there’s been a casting off in certain quarters of anything considered “street” in favor of a certain restraint and refinement, a ladylike—no, I haven’t heard that one in years either—image of precision-tailored jackets, narrow skirts, vertiginous pumps, and stately frame handbags—the works. Perhaps it’s the inevitable knee-jerk reaction to what has become so familiar, so riffed upon, that it could only swing back pendulum-like. It’s all lovely, to be sure, but it’s not the only way to think about one of fashion’s two favorite four-letter words. You can also give it bite. You can give it relevance; you can give it a respectful and realistic understanding of how women might want to look right here, right now. Enter Mr. Martens.
Backstage, he talked about the importance of construction and how it could be used to build a 48-look collection that speaks to all sorts of characters. That inclusiveness has long been the basis of what he does at Y/Project, and with his seven-strong team he—and they—did that brilliantly, because this was the most accessible and yet still ambitious collection the label has done. It allowed all sorts of entry points, whether you’re one for a gray sweatshirt with a dramatic décolleté, a sculpted dress which aped classic ’50s elegance but without the old-fashioned and now-out-of-touch constraint, or a pair of killer jeans with the waistline cut into a saucy V shape. And in the end, who cares how it’s labeled when the clothes are this good?