Milan Fashion Week 2023: Diesel show opens against 200,000 condoms

Written by Marianna Cerini, CNNMilan, Italy

Guests arriving at the Diesel Fashion Week show in Milan on Wednesday may have been surprised by the crew: a giant mountain of condoms. The Italian brand unveiled its Fall-Winter 2023 collection against the backdrop of more than 200,000 Durex boxes, hinting at gender positivity and an upcoming collaboration with the contraceptive company.

“We like to play at Diesel, and we’re serious about it,” creative director Glenn Martens said in a statement. “Have fun, respect each other, be safe.”

In fact, the entire collection explored themes of freedom, pleasure and experimentation, with models stretching around the condom detonation in ultra-low jeans, denim garments with mesh lace panels and silk dresses ripped together by precarious chains. Between the accompanying techno soundtrack, the sound of crying was evident, reinforcing the message that Martens is going to push boundaries.

A model wearing a silk dress with draped chains on the runway.

A model wearing a silk dress with draped chains on the runway. Credit: Victor Virgile/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images

Since becoming creative director in October 2020, the Belgian designer has steered Diesel – long known for its provocative marketing and luxe jeans aesthetic – towards more experimental uses of denim. He is also playing with upcycling. This collection only featured nylon that was coated with another type of plastic and heated, dead stock faux fur painted to look almost like liquid and biker jackets that were blow torched and transformed into structural pieces.

A look from Diesel's Fall-Winter 2023 collection.

A look from Diesel’s Fall-Winter 2023 collection. Credit: Victor Virgile/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images

And, of course, it made Diesel’s set design something very important during fashion week.

In February 2022, returning to the post-pandemic Martens runway, the label greeted attendees with five inflatables striking a series of comical poses that Diesel described as “confident, exuberant and proud.” Each was modeled after a real person and ranged from 25 feet to 55 feet in width. Among the props for the show was an edible yoke made of red and white candy.

Then, for his Spring-Summer 2023 presentation last September, Diesel erected a giant inflatable that won the Guinness World Record for the world’s largest inflatable sculpture. (The label also invited the public to attend the show, breaking fashion week’s exclusive norms of hosting 5,000 people.)

Models walk past the 'mountain' of bright red condom boxes.

Models walk past the ‘mountain’ of bright red condom boxes. Credit: Victor Virgile/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images

The “mountain” condom, as Diesel described it, made another viral moment under the direction of Martens – a move that promotes the label’s new collection and safe sex. In keeping with the theme, invitations were sent out in the form of Durex packs, and a post-runway press release announced that Diesel will be distributing an additional 300,000 condoms across its stores worldwide in April. One sweater T-shirt seen on Wednesday’s runway also hinted at what’s to come, with the classic Diesel “D” logo swapped for a “D” by Durex.

Caption at top of image: Diesel presentation team.

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