Fashion doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It feeds and reacts to the world around it, resolving a symbiotic relationship between culture and clothes. And in these turbulent times – no matter how apocalyptic they feel – Marine Serre has been there to remind viewers of the dormant potential that lies in what we so carelessly discard and disregard. At PFWM this weekend she once again delivered, this time using poetry to address these contemporary concerns.
“Nothing is created. Everything is transformed. To love is to repair. It must be simple. We are repaired, we are reused… We are restitched, we are re-embroidered…” Serre wrote in a poem. Her poignant words reverberated through the rafters as models weaved past towering deadstock sculptures – echoes of our own absurd destruction of the planet – in gorgeous zero-waste clothes. Layered alongside her prose, the material monoliths further spoke to fashion’s waste problem. Those three looming, eight-metre tall towers of tightly compressed abandoned textiles were constructed from one of scarves, tote bags or denim respectively, and were mere tinctures of the deadstock held in Serre’s own warehouses. Stock that would otherwise be conceded to a landfill, Serre systematically set about showing what she could do with these materials.
So, inside her enormous, immersive apocalyptic installation – her scale model of a future dystopia and refuge of tomorrow – her peerless upcycling skills were revealed. The collection was called Rising Shelter, and proposed an air of optimism for AW23. Unveiled as five sequential design families, the first grouping saw formal shirts and sweeping coats regenerated from classic cotton tote bags. Next, corseted denim dresses decorated with jangling crescent-moon-embossed plates and cargo vests, cropped jackets and patchwork jeans emerged. Recycled motocross leathers were then reworked to svelte dimensions; think a siren silhouette strapless gown, a rebellious racing jacket and heavy-weight trousers.
Things then pivoted to a series of playfully coquettish shaggy knits and were followed closely by tailored monogrammed jacquards made with regenerated nylon yarns. After that, slick black tailoring was accentuated by contrast top stitches alongside chemical-free processed leather looks paired with jewellery that was upcycled from old kitchen cutlery. Tapestry topped couture shapes were next, but these weren’t your grandma’s favourite living room fabrics, these were beautifully elaborate jacquards, brocades and reclaimed upholstery fabrics that relied on orange lines to delineate and accentuate diverse figures. Finally, a series of sensual repurposed silk scarf designs in floral and acid-green tones worn over black or moon-monogrammed catsuits brought the collection to a climax.
Rising Shelter felt more grown-up than previous collections from Serre, and the committed environmentalist’s message came through loud and clear: as this grim reality looms, we can still salvage the situation.
Photography by Arnel Del La Gente.