For her first runway show since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, Marine Serre took over the Lafayette Anticipations contemporary art foundation with a temporary display that explains how she produces her “regenerated” garments.
At a series of work stations, bundles of vintage clothes are sorted, cut and sewn into her signature designs, some of which are available for sale in a pop-up store at the venue, which recently hosted the first art exhibition by Belgian designer Martin Margiela, the original master of salvage.
The “Hard Drive” exhibition, open for free to the public for two days, takes visitors through atmospheric sets decked out with reclaimed furniture, and ends with a section featuring hacked reproductions of Old Masters’ paintings. Think “Girl With a Crescent Moon Print Headscarf,” instead of “Girl With a Pearl Earring.”
“I thought it was important to focus on the clothing itself. What is it? How is it made? How is it sewn? What is the process?” Serre explained in a preview. “Being able to show it in a museum shines a spotlight on the craftsmanship behind fashion.”
It also helps to explain the price tags of the clothes. Though Serre has worked hard to bring down the cost of her garments, a T-shirt produced on-site in a limited-edition run will retail for 390 euros, while a pair of jeans in her signature crescent print costs 890 euros. Visitors can also refresh their favorite pieces of clothing with the house’s distinctive logo.
The designer is expanding her accessories line, with the launch of a pillar handbag that combines a base structure made of deadstock leather with upcycled materials that will change every season. She’s also introducing a shoe with a sculpted heel that leaves behind a crescent moon footprint.
The show started with Dutch-Iranian music artist Sevdaliza calling for a minute of silence in solidarity with “the victims of injustice and war.” For her coed fall collection, Serre channeled punk and raver influences with items like coats spliced together from tartan scarves and houndstooth wool, a sweeping gown and cape pieced together from grunge T-shirts and a Gothic tattoo-print bodysuit.
She drove home the individuality of the looks with a genuinely diverse cast: models of different ages, races and body types, some with colorful spiked hair and makeup that nodded to punk idol Jordan Mooney. There was a rich range of outerwear, ranging from a cocoon-like hoodie made from Provençal quilted fabric, known as boutis, to allover looks in a patchwork camouflage print.
Meanwhile, dévoré velvet gowns that covered the face, and were accessorized with dripping silver chain headdresses, combined romanticism with edge. “I think all these undercurrents represent a form of rebellion,” Serre explained. “We lack imagination today, and imagination is what can save us from depression.”
A portion of proceeds from the pop-up will be donated to Doctors Without Borders to support its efforts in Ukraine. Despite the relentless diet of bad news, Serre wants to believe in a better world. “We have to keep fighting for freedom, even more so today,” she said.