Fashion & Beauty

Would You Wear This?

March 7, 2023

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Denim’s got a whole new look, courtesy of Diesel. 

By MyLittleBird Staff

OKAY, WE DIDN’T see this coming. But maybe we should have. Certainly there has been a decade (longer?) of shredded denim jeans—threadbare at the knees, shredded at the hems, giant holes where the workaday fabric ought to be.

Italy’s Diesel jeans brand takes credit (or is it blame?) for spurring the shredded trend, which affects an I-so-don’t-care attitude. But Diesel’s new creative director, Glenn Martens, is showing that he cares quite a bit—about how denim can get the burnout treatment generally used with velvet, how the sturdy fabric can be lightened to gossamer weight, how it can assume the glamour of “haute-er” stuff. A master of so many techniques—from tufting, fraying to collaging and painting, let’s just call Martens the Denim Disruptor!

Below, we look at three dresses and a jacket from Diesel’s fall 2023 collection, shown in Milan last week, and three pieces from the label’s spring runway that are in stores and on the retailer’s website right now. Little Birds Janet, Nancy and Kathy have their opinions:


Janet: Who knew denim could be this sexy and stunning? This spaghetti-strap, body-hugging gown, made with dévoré denim, is from Glenn Martens’s fall 2023 runway collection. Although it’s not technically for sale, I’m guessing stylists are considering grabbing it to dress one of their celebrity clients in time for the Oscars this Sunday. The only rub is that it’s so shockingly sheer.

Nancy: I would faint if someone showed up to the Oscars in this! I’m old enough to remember Barbra Streisand basically baring her behind, and a lot more skin has been on display since way back then. But nipples!? I don’t see it. Or rather, I don’t want to. I admire the skill and technique, but if this slinky number makes it to any public gathering, I’m betting it’ll have a lot more layers. Put this noise-maker under the heading of Épater les bourgeois: Yes, we regular folks would be shocked indeed.

Kathy: OMG, this dress is gorgeous. As is the model. R rated obviously, but who cares? And yes, clearly Oscar-worthy sans the nipples. I’ve gotten so turned off by so much of what’s on red carpets these days. Too MUCH skin for my taste with gowns so ridiculously contrived my reaction is why even bother wearing anything. However, that’s not the reaction I have with this wisp of a dress. Don’t know why. Perhaps because it’s so delicately elegant. Delicate denim. Who would have imagined there could be such a thing?


Janet: Timing, they say, is everything. In a season when the biggest trends are denim everything and everywhere and see-through fabrics, creative director Martens nails it with his fall collection. I’ve never been a fan of ripped jeans with gaping holes—except perhaps for skinny 16-year-olds—but Martens takes distressed to a new level, succeeding in making magic out of strategic shredding as on this dress with a top that’s just barely attached to its skirt bottom.

Nancy: I don’t think even skinny 16-year-olds look good in ripped jeans, but this is something else. As often happens, this may be a runway look that gets “adapted” (some will complain “watered down”) and may insinuate itself into more mainstream clothes.

Kathy: Back in the Pleistocene, when I was in college, is when we young folk (at least to my recollection) decided it was cool to wear jeans (bell bottoms in those days) frayed at the hem. I suppose we thought it some sign of cool rebellion it being the ’60s and all. Plus, we looked really cute. But I certainly wouldn’t have called it a fashion statement. How times have changed. It would be wrong for a woman my age to wear this, wouldn’t it? Wouldn’t it? But, I would so love to.


Nancy: Cut longer for a clientele of normal-sized women, this one is a no-brainer. I leave it to Janet to explain how a bucket of paint can become a dress, but the style is easy enough to wear.

Janet: I’m loving the idea here. Who wouldn’t want their very own Jackson Pollock of a dress? I understand this is from the fall runway, but, please, Diesel, can you make a longer one for the retail version?

Kathy: Paint? There’s paint involved here? I suppose I could deal with that. I’m just picturing how this intriguing mini would go over out here in the wilds of West Virginia where denim is the absolute fabric of choice, and the average body weight is around 300 pounds. It’s okay. I can dump on West Virginia. I was born here.



Nancy: Sun-bleached and lacy, this Zipped Bomber Jacket marries a (formerly) working-class fabric with exquisite tailoring and embodies the way that wild runway ideas can migrate to city streets. The jacket is $667 on Farfetch.

Kathy: Very pretty. I’m not a fan of denim but definitely would wear this. I think most women could. It’s great to see something that works on more than a sylph-like body. The jacket is so feminine. Not something one usually associates with denim.

Janet: I want to swap this gorgeous piece of clothing for the jackets in my closet that now look so darn ordinary.



Nancy: This is sheer that almost anyone can carry off! This is the dévoré technique at work, applying a pattern that eats away at the fabric leaving its substrate behind to give the effect of lace. This was part of the Spring-Summer 2023 runway show, but it will be available on Farfetch for $555 beginning March 13.

Kathy: Thanks, Nancy. You just taught me something. I’ve seen the results of the dévoré technique but didn’t know until now exactly how is was done. And I love the way it’s exhibited in this unique skirt.

Janet: My inbox is full of e-mails suggesting that my must-buy for spring is a denim skirt. But I’ve seen nothing as inspiring as this sun-bleached, lacy midi. It’s not only clothing; it’s art.


Nancy: Glenn Martens isn’t the first to rough up denim, but the ruching (Diesel calls it smocking) here is genius and wearable. The price of the Puffy Artisanal Trucker has been cut in half on the Diesel site, to $747, but you’ll have to ask to be notified when it’s back in stock.

Kathy: Interesting take on denim. I like it. Would I wear it? Not if I had to pay $747 to do so.

Janet: Agree with Nancy—it’s genius. Diesel’s Glenn Martens scores again with another innovative, easy-to-wear take on the classic jean jacket. Unique but yes, Kathy, it’s spendy.

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10 thoughts on “Would You Wear This?

  1. Susan S says:

    I have some jeans that are ripped at the knee that I wear to paint – they are just old and worn through, but I always wonder if people in my class think I am in style or look ridiculous?!

    I just started watching Next in Fashion on Netflix. Denim is BIG in the show. Sadly the designers are given less than no time to make things, and the wrong people get sent home when they are put in teams, but some of the clothes are quite interesting.

    1. Janet Kelly says:

      I bet the people in your painting class think you look cool. I would! Wearing worn-out jeans there makes sense.
      Haven’t watched Next in Fashion, but I will now. Thanks for the tip, Sue.

  2. Nancy McKeon says:

    Val: You’re saying nice things about me just cuz I edit your column! and thanks for that!

  3. Nancy G says:

    You guys are a riot! Frankly, I love all of these pieces. Can’t wear any of them as is, but the ideas will trickle down for the masses soon enough. Actually, a long denim skirt is on my shopping list now, though not sheer. The first dress is fabulous, btw.

    1. Janet Kelly says:

      You of all people could wear these clothes! That bleached jacket has your name on it.

  4. cynthia tilson says:

    I’m sitting here drinking my coffee, dressed in my Gap high waisted ‘mom’ jeans, smiling at this fun foray into haute denim fashion. Body dysmorphia and derring-do aside, I can’t think of anything more fun and entertaining than attending a fashion show with you three little birds!
    More like this? Yes please!!!

    1. Janet Kelly says:

      Aw. As I sit here responding to you, the three of us are thinking about writing more like this!

  5. Carol says:

    I love the jackets!!!
    Of course, I agree, too pricey for me. I have always loved denim but never got up the nerve to wear the ripped up ones. (Although I have a couple pair of old ones that “accidentally” have holes from my overuse of Clorox.) But they are only for wear in house 🙂 Will keep my eyes open for a new spring jacket!!!

    1. Janet Kelly says:

      Ripped denim is not a look I love either. But I think these Diesel jackets look terrific. Bet they’ll be copied!

  6. Val Monroe says:

    A couple of Nancy’s comments made me LOL. More of her, please!

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