Like an oracle who has watched their doomsday prediction come to pass, Marine Serre has had to reposition her message in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.
Since founding her label three years ago, she’s been warning about a climate apocalypse, turning face masks into a signature look well before COVID-19 struck. With scientists saying the health crisis and environmental factors are closely linked, she feels sadly vindicated. So what now?
Instead of lamenting disaster, she decided to celebrate what remains. Her fall collection, titled Core, was all about human connection, from the many hands that collect and repurpose the upcycled garments that go into her “regenerated” designs, to the friends and family that make up the creative heart of the brand.
“Being locked up for six months, seeing hardly anybody, you seek connection, you try to make sense of things,” she said in a Zoom call.
After producing a slick sci-fi short film last season, she opted for an intimate, multipart documentary that will live on her website for several months. While one section is dedicated to her manufacturing process, a series of vignettes feature members of her extended tribe engaging in mundane tasks like cooking or dancing on the couch — all dressed in her eco-futuristic clothes.
The faces should be familiar to fans of the brand, model Amalia Vairelli and artist Juliet Merie among them. So should the looks: Serre has expounded on signature techniques and fabrics, ranging from leather, moiré and denim to repurposed fleece bedcovers, household linen and silk scarves.
For grocery shopping, she proposed a black moiré trapeze coat with leggings in her distinctive crescent-moon print, whose fans include Beyoncé and Kylie Jenner. A trailing scarf top was paired with red patchwork jeans; a tattoo print dress with laser-printed black leather pants, and a balaclava sweater with a sporty pencil skirt.
The techniques for creating each look are detailed in an accompanying book, printed in a limited edition of 1,500. “In fashion, people focus a lot on design, and very little on the actual process of making the clothes,” Serre explained.
There’s a practical reason for revisiting the same idea each season: streamlining the industrial part has allowed her to slash prices for her White Line, the bread-and-butter part of her upcycled offer which encompasses denim. For instance, a dress made of vintage rock band T-shirts now retails for 950 euros, versus 1,800 euros previously.
“When we started three years ago, our prices were quite exorbitant,” she said. “We’re doing this for a generation that wanted to wear the brand and couldn’t afford it.”
Much like lockdown, delving into the documentary requires the viewer to pause and adopt a slower rhythm. Unlike our own all-too-familiar routines, watching these strangers connect in subtle, intimate ways is a potent reminder that all is not lost.