exclusive: marine serre’s latest upcycled futurewear is designed for post-apocalyptic survival
Lose yourself in the LVMH-prize winning designer’s imagination-igniting, possibility-pushing world as she elevates long-lost ephemera, finds value in trash and reimagines couture.
Marine Serre autumn/winter 19 invite
This article originally appeared on i-D UK.
For her autumn/winter 19 collection, entitled Radiation, Marine Serre invites us to escape to post-apocalypse safety. As ecological crises and climate change threaten to destroy civilisation as we know it, the LVMH-prize winning designer has created her own safe space in tomorrow’s world with an imagination-igniting, possibility-pushing wardrobe that continually morphs and mutates, elevating long-lost ephemera, finding value in trash and reimagining couture.
Not content with launching one of fashion’s most exciting new labels, Marine Serre has been been busy crafting a sustainability-focused soft power movement that has demanded the industry be more conscious of the world around it. As 20 young designers from 15 countries are shortlisted for this year’s LVMH Prize, there’s few better footsteps to follow than the Corrèze-born, Paris-based 2017 winner. “Today is the time for people that do not compromise,” her spring/summer 19 show notes explained. “It is time for those that take things to their end, by themselves, without getting distracted -- with resolution, persistence, and love.” This message is set to echo throughout her autumn/winter 19 collection too. As the softly spoken designer’s voice is becoming increasingly confident, her vision is becoming more compelling, her message more powerful
In the space of eighteen month, she’s navigated her way into the industry and built her house of FutureWear, growing from a team of three to 30, and producing 10,000 pieces for a growing global-wide stockist list. Throughout, she’s asked herself one simple but powerful question: “Why does the world need another fashion brand?” Well, her answer has been to create no ordinary fashion brand, but something the world needs. "We can never stop questioning it,” she reminded i-D during an exclusive preview of the collection at her 2nd arrondissement studio. “It's about providing an ongoing answer, a conversation... it's a process that should never end,” she added.
Her autumn/winter 18 collection, Manic Soul Machine, her first catwalk show, was a reaction to the relentlessness of the fashion industry and hinted at the upcycling that she’d incorporate throughout her label. “Today, it’s not enough to dream,” Marine breathlessly explained backstage after that show. “You have to follow through with action, you have to question, you have to provide answers and it has to be real.” As she presented only her third collection, the young daydreamer became a doer, ready to create for the 21st century. “It’s about designing a new reality,” she added, “one that doesn’t compromise but simply reacts to and works with the real needs, situations and fantasies of garments today.” Last season’s Hardcore Couture collection developed her FutureWear vision further by introducing four complimentary lines; the inventive and hybrid-filled ready-to-wear gold line, the upcycled eco-futurism of the green line, the core brand white line, and the new couture red line. “It really was hardcore, it was about finding our place and knowing what you do,” Serre explained in her sun-filled studio. “And now I've found it, I'm so happy! I'm closer to what I like. At the beginning you are reacting, now I know what I want to create, so it’s the same four lines again this season, with the green line encompassing the upcycled denim, scarves, duvets, picnic blankets, bed blankets, Irish knitwear, and more”
Her autumn/winter 19 collection, Radiation, contains a number of narratives that see the Marine Serre woman and man, continually shape-shift, evolve, and mutate inside a post-apocalyptic underground world. “The show is situated in an underground cave made of chalk, a human-made labyrinth exposing the natural rocks,” she teased. “It starts with a phosphorescent look. You don’t see the girl, you only see the moon and sensations are heightened by UV lights. As each character walks, you should have two visions of each look, one lit up by the yellow light and then another laser from a filter of pink and green. It represents radiation, it mimics the aurora.” This clash of the natural with the man-made is a collision of juxtaposed contradictions as Serre delights in the duality of high and low, couture and rubbish, priceless and worthless. "I’m interested in taking ubiquitous elements and proposing them in new ways. For me, the everyday can be couture," she explained.
"They are morphing and transforming a weird new style. A new pluriversal mode, equipping them for embattling a hostile old world, while defending their delicate own,” the sci-fi script-worthy show notes explained. These survivors of a long lost world cut, copy and manipulate memories of long lost worlds alongside daydreams of a brighter tomorrow. Shamanic symbols from forgotten tribes are rediscovered and sit alongside Apollo space-suits, action-hero tailored coats, fluorescent yellow uniforms, ponchos made of bedcovers, hanging hybrid robes, couture dresses made from garbage, jewellery embellished with driftwood, seashells, computer chips, coins and so much more. Even the house's signature crescent moon motif has mutated: it's now a moon in movement. There's even a sartorial nod to the late, great Karl Lagerfeld, surely the first of many we'll see this season and beyond. The world as we know it might've ended but the late designer's legacy lives on. In that provocative Numéro interview from the year in which Karl insulted just about everyone in the industry, one of the few complimentary words he uttered were about Marine Serre: "1m 50, but a will of steel," he said.
This is an imagination-igniting, boundary-pushing, detail-filled collection that you’ll want to lose yourself in over and over again. Thankfully for all of you lot, you have a frow seat thanks to the first ever Marine Serre livestream. "It’s our first live stream,” Serre explained, as i-D invites you all to watch the autumn/winter 19 show experience unfold. “We might not be able to invite everyone but we wanted to share the experience as best we could. Last season, I created an experience outside on a bridge that’s part of my daily commute, now this season’s show is an invitation into another world -- a shared experience between a group of people escaping underground.”
“I want to have fun with the house too. I want to make it clear that it's a future proposal. I want to dress myself in couture out of picnic blankets, along with proposing power tailoring. Before we talked about FutureWear but it was fake; in 10 years we might need to wear a breathing mask everyday,” she says, "so we collaborated with R-Pur, the French-made anti-pollution masks". Climate change may well be complex but there’s a simple and disturbing fact: we only have 12 years left to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees, anything beyond 1.5 degrees, and we’re talking extreme threats to civilisation, to the entire natural world. This isn’t project fear, this is project reality, the end is nigh if we don't act. "I try to enjoy the world right now but it's apocalyptic. I like to make jewellery out of shells, I don't need anyone for that. If everything collapses, I can just be a crazy woman making it." As best she can, Marine Serre is future-proofing FutureWear.
This article originally appeared on i-D UK.