At a time of drastic change in fashion, it is important to highlight innovators within the industry who not only explore new design material, but also challenge the industry as a whole. Marine Serre is one of such innovators. The 27-year-old Belgian designer boasts an impressive resume having interned for Alexander McQueen, Dior, and worked under Demna Gvasalia as a primary designer at Balenciaga. Her maximal approach to design is future focused not only in terms of aesthetic, but also in business practices.
Recently, certain aspects of the fashion industry, such as fast fashion, have come under fire for a complete disregard of environmental effect and a total lack of sustainable production standards. As a result, many young designers are working to combat this imbalance in an effort to preserve their ability to continue designing. Marine sees sustainable practices as a necessity in the make-up of her brand. Each collection produced in the label’s short lifespan has contained many pieces of clothing made either partly or entirely from post-consumer upcycled textiles.
Marine is a designer at heart and she excels in communicating to a growing fanbase of young fashion acolytes. I had the pleasure of asking her a few questions about her process, and her business in the days following her Fall/Winter 2019 fashion show in Paris to gain some insight into the burgeoning brand.
Sustainability is a big topic in fashion today. I find that the majority of designers approach sustainability through a pared down design aesthetic and an austere focus on nature but you don’t. Your work is more maximal, and I’m curious how and why upcycling is the realm of sustainability that attracts you the most?
Upcycling and sustainability is not a compromisation of design and never should be. If there are problems we find solutions. We will not have the luxury of designing for people if we are destroying the planet in the process, really there is no alternative.
Does the limitation in terms of access to raw materials provide a necessary restriction on your design freedom? Does it make you “more” creative?
We don't walk into an organic fabric shop and buy the whole shop and there’s a collection as a result. A lot of people have the preconceived notion about upcycling that it’s either some for[m] of fair-trade cotton or 1% recycled and they’re [suddenly] an ‘ecobrand’. It’s not the case. It pushes us to find these solutions previously mentioned. All our leathered denim. is [d]eadstock and we repurpose and [rebuild]l to form something new, something beautiful. Creativity historically comes from restrictions.
Based on your career path, it would appear that you believe in learning while working. Your design resume is already impressive, how do you believe those experiences working for very high profile brands shaped your design style?
When I got interested I idolized McQueen enormously and was completely in shock when he died. So, interning at Alexander McQueen was very special to me. It was a humbling experience though. And of course, to observe the inner workings of the Dior ateliers was a great thing. To see this from the inside [taught] me a lot, technically and creatively, but also a lot on how machines like this are organized internally. That still helps us a lot now while building something ourselves.
You’ve mentioned on several occasions that your main inspiration comes from the street. I think that designers looking to eccentricities that exist today, rather than distinctly historical references, has become more prevalent and that it has allowed people to explore really strange ways of making clothing. How much do you identify with the clothing that is being made by other designers? Does it excite you? Or does the proliferation of your own vision consume your eye?
It’s not so much a balance but a multitude of influence. The heritage and precision of couture are equally as important to me [as] the pace of daily life. We need to adapt [from] the one track mind of consumption - why shouldn’t someone be equally consumed by couture as they are sportswear?