Instead of coming to a tragic end when its founder, Yohan Serfaty, died of cancer in 2013, the French label Y/Project has managed to become one of the buzziest labels in Paris today. That's thanks to Glenn Martens, a Belgian graduate of Antwerp’s storied Royal Academy of Arts in his early thirties who took over a few years ago, switching from exclusively menswear to unisex designs so innovative, it was announced on Friday that Martens has won this year's coveted ANDAM Grand Prix—the first of which, back in 1989, went to none other than Martin Margiela.
Following in the footsteps of names like Christophe Lemaire, Jeremy Scott, Iris van Herpen, and Anthony Vaccarello, too, Martens will soon be awarded €280,000—along with €10,000 worth of Swarovski crystals to use within the next year in his collections. In that time, Martens will also be mentored by Francesca Bellettini, the president and chief executive of Saint Laurent. (Pierre Bergé, aka the late Yves Saint Laurent's long-time partner, is, after all, ANDAM's president.)
Martens was up against the youth culture-centered label Aalto and the streetwear-focused label Koché, both of which are Parisian and have recently been up for the LVMH Prize, as well as Martine Rose, arguably London's hottest menswear designer, whose most recent show took place in a rock climbing gym.
Martens was a finalist of last year's LVMH Prize, too, though since then, he's showcased an even more developed knack for taking inspirations as varied as girl on the subway and Gothic architecture and turning them into designs that are somehow both gritty and polished. His most recent collection, for example, which he showed in Paris earlier this month, even managed to make extra arms and baggy denim boots look chic.
The designer has felt free to "go wilder" ever since he opened up to womenswear, too. "I’m always asking myself, Are we going too far?" Martens told W this time last year. At least he's letting everyone else in on the party. "We try to have fun, and I think that translates into the clothes."