The French designer and ‘ecofuturist’ discusses her Spring/Summer 2021 collection and film, as well as her thoughts on the events of the past half-year
In many ways, Marine Serre is a fashion prophetess. The self-described ‘ecofuturist’ designs clothes for the future, clothes that may just enable us to have a future, working in an environmentally friendly way that involves sourcing and upcycling used fabric to produce unique, couture-like garments – garments that she calls ‘futurewear’.
Despite the French designer’s forward-thinking approach to fashion though, she is fully of the moment too, and able to articulate it in a way that few of her contemporaries can rival. She has the propensity to distill the cultural mood – with all its conversations, discussions and debates – into her collections. Deftly and certainly not literally.
Which brings us to her Spring/Summer 2021 collection, debuted this week via a short film entitled Amor Fati. The result of a collaboration with directors Sacha Barbin and Ryan Doubiago, and the composer Pierre Rousseau, the film stars the Iranian-Dutch singer Sevdaliza and the French artist Juliet Merie, a close friend and collaborator of Serre’s.
The production encapsulates Serre’s response to the outbreak of Covid-19 and the social upheaval that has ensued since: that we should embrace the change, not shy away from it; a response that is reflected in the characters in the film, which “seamlessly mutate as they move through three symbolic environments”.
“In fact, [the past six months] has given us new opportunity on the creative level and a strong encouragement to keep following that path started in 2017,” Serre tells us. “It feels good to be followed – it forces us to get [to] the next steps and to embrace what is coming, even if it’s not always easy.”
Here, Serre elaborates on this, opening up about the creation of this collection and film, her thoughts on these strange times and how her work is a reflection of them.
“Everything was started during confinement; I was [already] considering not doing a show ... so it was an occasion to embrace this change and [also] a moment to think how to do something else. I was already constricted by the limits that a runway show can have – such as a limited amount of people, short amount of time and most importantly the limits of [not being able to] go deeper into the personalities of the characters that walk a show. In Mind Melange Motor [Serre’s previous collection] you could already see that there were defined groups of people and roles, but I needed to explore [that] further. So the film was automatically the first thing that came up in my mind. The next was to figure out how to make it happen. It was still during confinement that we were creatively working via video call and exchanging ideas, and as soon as we could we started to work on the realisation of the film.
“It was really important for me that the film was spread worldwide, but at the same time equally important for me to work with local artists, and have a close connection and exchange [with the people involved]. We were extremely connected during the creative process, in symbiosis – with the directors of the film, the production and the Marine Serre team that worked on the project. It was really important for me to talk about feelings ... to show deepness after this moment of vacuum.
“It was a creative exchange; I had no background in cinema, neither Sacha nor Ryan had it in fashion. We both learnt a lot, especially on the technical aspects of this project. We built a lot on each other! The project was very ambitious, as we want to show the garments, but at the same time tell a story with a meaning without dialogue, while building up characters, in a short film, [with a] limited budget – [it was] a project that required a lot of work. We are also perfectionists and I think that helped to reach this result. For me it is a balance between technicity and feelings.
“[The film] reflects what we are going through, and the existentialism in how we manage feelings in our daily life. Often these emotions and sensations get oppressed and denied. Amor Fati is an invitation to embrace all outcomes, with no judgments. I feel like the approach that I have working for my brand is very similar to this idea. It requires a lot of strength and acceptance of events so to be able to overcome our present in a productive and positive way.
“The last six months have been very heavy, of course – like for all the rest of the planet. In terms of creativity it is always a balance. For a brand like ours that aims for radical changes in the production line ... this moment of violent change was destabilising but it was something that didn’t make me panic. In fact, it has given us us new opportunity on the creative level and a strong encouragement to keep following that path started in 2017. It feels good to be followed – it forces us to get [to] the next steps and to embrace what is coming, even if it’s not always easy.
“We were already battling to change the fashion system, and this moment of change makes it easier for us to open doors that before were difficult to open. For us it was quite a creative and a motivating moment to be more recognised and be acknowledged. It generated a lot of energies and encouragement to keep on going, knowing that there is a lot of progress still to be made. For instance, lowering the price of our White line offering, aiming to reach 100 per cent recycled and biodegradable material ... [as well as the] importance of choosing local and European production. These kind of choices have consequences, and it is encouraging to see that everyone is following and we aren’t alone anymore on this path, because the change can happen only if we are many on the same route.”