Pair upcycled fabrics with futuristic shapes, embellish with political symbols and provocative slogans, add a splash of color and dose of texture, and you have Marine Serre: the winner of the LVMH Fashion Prize for Young Fashion Designers in 2017 and the brilliant mind behind one of Barneys New York’s newest labels.
To say it’s been a massive year for the French designer is a bit like saying it’s nice to win the lottery. In 12 short months, everything has changed, and Serre’s primary focus right now is on ensuring that the quality and creativity of her collection does not waver because of the enormous interest in her new brand. “Feet on the ground,” says the 26-year-old, describing her take-it-in-stride attitude. Learn more about the creative genius behind the looks you’ll be wearing this fall in our latest edition of Startup Life.
“I don’t plan too much. The design process comes naturally to me. When I graduated from La Cambre Mode[s] two years ago, I was 24. I already had started using the moon shape in my collection. Yes, it is an Arabic symbol, but it is also the symbol of a woman. For me, everything is political and nothing is political. The moon means different things, but at the same time it is the same moon for everyone. That is why I chose it for the brand, because I want my collection to be about crossing boundaries, reaching all women no matter what place or culture.”
“When I won the LVMH Prize in June last year, the collection was being made by just my sister, my boyfriend, and myself. I was working around the clock—for Balenciaga during the day, then on my own collection at night. I was so busy! Now, just one year later, I have a team of 20 people working for me. We are in 70 retailers, where a year ago we did not even have one store. It has been amazing to see how fast things move.”
“I am from the French countryside and lived there until I was 17. I was a very competitive tennis player growing up—this was my life, playing every day after school with thoughts of becoming a professional. But at 15, I started attending an arts school, and I found something new to focus on. I moved to Marseilles, then Belgium, and now Paris to pursue design. Of course, my focus today is on my collection, but the spirit of sport is something special to me. What I learned from playing tennis I still apply to everything in my daily life. I try to bring elements of sportswear to my designs as well.”
“This season, we are suddenly in 70 stores. The interest has been amazing. That’s why I called my Fall ’18 collection ‘Manic Soul Machine.’ It refers to the mania of how fast my career is going and how fast the world goes around me, too. This crazy pace—it is exciting, but I don’t want to lose my soul. I need to keep my feet down. The ‘machine’ refers to us as people. We are all machines with souls! I am still surprised by how quickly so many people found out about us. A year ago, no one knew who we were. It is nice to be noticed.”
“There are several designers who inspire me: Maison Margiela is an important part of my life and an influence on my collection. I admire Azzedine Alaïa and how he shaped women through his feminine silhouettes. And I find a lot of inspiration in the archives of Balenciaga. I am a child of all these people, and my work is informed by their work.”
THE BIG PICTURE
“My philosophy—in design and in life—is to go to the end of things. I want to push the boundaries of what is possible and see what is on the other side. I am not afraid to jump into cold water. Life has taught me that after you set one goal, no matter what happens, you have a chance to try again. The process of learning never ends. I keep this in mind as I design my collection.”
“I like tech fabrics you can move in, and I like to use a lot of jersey. But my big focus is on upcycling. In the next collection, more than half of the fabrics are upcycled. I do this because I want my clothes to represent the way of the future. Yes, it takes more time to design using these materials, but it is what makes me interested in my work.”