Marine Serre: the interview for the ten years of Vogue Talents

Marine Serre is one of the designers that Vogue Talents has always supported. On the occasion of the magazine’s ten years it was therefore chosen for an interview, originally published in the issue of last September, which we now publish in full form to introduce you to the French designer. Marine Serre told us about his complex inspirations, about the victory of LVMH award, of its numerous internships and its creative process, as well as the upcycling techniques that now characterize it.

Lucioni Photographer – Oberrauch / Gorunway.com

Here’s what we talked about together.

From the first moment you faced political problems in your collections. How come you decided to do it? What are the themes that are most dear to you? And what do you think is the role of fashion today?

It wasn’t really my choice. There are certain things that are part of my world and then they become part of my inspiration. What is really political? Everything that has not yet been resolved or that has been shown to us as resolved, but which is then questioned again. So most politicians today aren’t all that political, while fashion has become more political than politicians themselves.

What are your characteristic elements besides the “crescent moon”? For example, from a point of view of silhouettes, shapes and materials.

Hybridism and transformation play a central role for me. I know they are abstract terms, not characteristic elements. But let’s take for example the mixture of comfort and practicality, for which I am referring a lot to sportswear techniques or archetypal garments, then combined with female forms that are very constructed and more related to the forms of classic couture. The balance between practicality and femininity of forms has been a central theme for me and, currently, it is rather codified in the identity of my brand. I am one of those designers who model and drape directly on the body, so this is very important to me: the way the fabric falls and the way the body moves inside – the interaction between fabric, shape and body. I also like to play with crosses and mixes between different types of products, or transformations of something into a completely different result. For example ours Dream Ball Bag it is a gymnastic ball that has been turned into a bag. Obviously another very important thing for me is the Green Line – again it is about transforming, starting from a product at the end of the cycle, which becomes a material ready to be used again, to finally become a new garment. I also use a tight jersey as a second skin, for suits, tops and leggings which is now a signature of my brand; as well as the fabric moire, designed to cover the furnishings and walls in the 18th century in France, which I often use for very tailored pieces.

How would you describe your style? Why did you choose the expression “Futurewear”? And why did you divide your brand into four lines?

“Futurewear” has sprung up inside the team, trying to create something for the future that we could not yet call by any name – just as in fashion we talk about knitwear, eyewear. ready-to-wear – so we decided to call it Futurewear. Regarding the lines: it happened because we tried to give structure to the brand. During the summer of 2018, we were trying to find a way to create an accessible ready-to-wear line, but not to be reduced only to that as a brand. The same happened with upcycled garments, but in this case we could not reduce the brand to this, because the brand was already very hybrid. I also felt the need to create something that was couture, something that was not related to series production and that was completely free. And here we have the three lines, respectively White, Green and Red. The Gold line is still difficult to define exactly, but probably the most important. It is a research in which historical references merge into futurist garments. The Gold line is where I come from, the core of the brand. Ultimately these four lines are essential.

What are your main sources of inspiration?

Every season is different. Usually vague sensations come to me; it’s all very close to the time we live in right now. Then I wonder how humans, animals and things interact with each other. I can become terribly depressed and confused, and then I talk a lot with people and look around for answers and information about what I don’t know. Then after thinking, I decide to see things clearly and do what I know is necessary.

Why did you focus on womenswear? And why then did you also propose men’s clothes?

The basis is the woman, but I like to see things mixed.

How do you make your shows?

There is a lot to think about. The best shows are the ones where things connect in the right way. In which you can connect things to leaders in the right way and make people perceive them. I always go quite far in my mental processes and connections. After deciding, I usually start talking about what I chose for that collection and then I try to transform it into a mood, starting from the image in my head. I am very lucky because I have some great listeners around me who help me conceptualize the show to make it real.

You have come to rely heavily on upcycling. Would you like to explain this choice to us? What are the pros and cons of this approach?

It is very experimental. Taking already used products and making them garments is not a new practice on the catwalks. I am aware of the great and stimulating precedents that exist, among all Margiela. We use end-of-cycle products that become garments that will really be worn, distributed in stores, and yet still sold at affordable prices. So what we do is create production lines for new garments like these, made with end-of-cycle products, for in-store sales. The cons are that manufacturers are not used to receiving a pile of end-of-cycle products, rather than a roll of fabric. Today in the sector there are no production chains like these. Sometimes we fail or things get too expensive. The pros are that nobody has ever done this, at least not seasonal fashion. So it’s very exciting and we have the feeling of doing something really relevant.

How did you take your first steps into the world of fashion? What were the most important lessons you learned while you were at Margiela, McQueen, Dior and Balenciaga?

I started quite young with traineeships. At 19 I was doing an internship with Fred Sathal in Marseille. I have always loved doing internships because I really wanted to learn everything about everything. My eyes were wide open. At Margiela I loved the team spirit, the artisan team, the process, and they gave me great hope and energy to continue in the fashion world. If I hadn’t gone through this brand, I think I wouldn’t have continued. McQueen arrived after Alexander’s death so the internship was not what I expected, but it was still important being a huge fan of his. Dior and Balenciaga allowed me to understand how big brands like these work and obviously working with Raf Simons and Demna Gvasalia has been very stimulating.

What has changed after winning the LVMH award? And how has your brand grown since its foundation?

The brand has grown very quickly. It almost doubled in numbers every season, which is very difficult in some cases – it was a long and intense marathon. Now we want to stabilize for a while and rest to consolidate what we have created. It is practically a miracle to have reached this point without having exploded along the way, remaining independent. Two years ago we were three people selling five hundred pieces; today we are almost thirty and we sell more than ten thousand. It’s still nothing compared to big names, but obviously it’s a huge change.

You have a certain following of celebrities. The last one I saw wearing one of your suits is Beyoncé. How important is this type of exposure and support?

It’s incredible. It is difficult to explain how much this means for a young brand like ours. We can’t pay for anything like this, as big brands do, so this type of support and recognition is truly admirable. Every star who wears Marine Serre buys the garment or we loan it for a few days, so our opportunities are lower than a brand that can give or even pay to wear their own clothes.

Lucioni Photographer – Oberrauch / Gorunway.com

Lucioni Photographer – Oberrauch / Gorunway.com

Lucioni Photographer – Oberrauch / Gorunway.com

Lucioni Photographer – Oberrauch / Gorunway.com

Lucioni Photographer – Oberrauch / Gorunway.com

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