At Pitti Uomo, Marine Serre Sends a Message of Peace and Unity

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Marine Serre for Pitti Uomo 106
Sempre Legati by Marine SerreCourtesy of Marine Serre

Titled Sempre Legati, meaning ‘always connected’, the French designer debuts a collection at the 106th edition of Pitti Uomo which dreams of peace in stormy times

Presented earlier this week, Marine Serre debuted her first show outside of her native Paris, having been selected as the guest designer for this year’s Pitti Uomo in Florence, Italy. The choice is testament to her radical ascent in fashion – she was relatively unknown when she won the LVMH Prize in 2017 with her collection Radical Call for Love, made up of fiercely elevated sportswear and slinky bodysuits, generously bestrewn with those now-omnipresent crescent moons. The collection at Pitti, titled Sempre Legati, meaning ‘always connected’, is a plea to keep hope alive in dark times.

The trade show draws retailers, editors, and menswear enthusiasts from around the world, and now in its 106th edition, Serre is following in the footsteps of designers like Raf Simons and Jean Paul Gaultier, as well as newcomers like Martine Rose, Grace Wales Bonner, and SS Daley, who have each stepped into the coveted spot of guest designer through the years. Presented at Villa di Maiano amid lush rolling hills and buzzing drones, Serre’s models skulked across the terrace in a collection that looked back on the golden age of Italian film.

Refusing to be restricted to showing purely menswear, Serre left the bodysuits and gimp masks behind for a co-ed collection of wickedly cool tailoring and slinky gowns. Sporty influences emerged in some racy, racer-inspired jackets and dresses. Her logo stippled all-leather looks in sizzlingly rich purples, reds and oranges, occasionally matched with a black shirt and red tie, evoking the feel of Kraftwerk’s sleek uniform. Closing the show, a collection of eight all-white looks made from upcycled bed linens, tablecloths and doilies cast out a statement of peace and surrender in our politically stormy times.

Like other designers such as Duran Lantink and Helen Kirkum who are emerging through the smoke of a world on fire, sustainability is merely a bullet point in Serre’s manifesto as opposed to a main brand signifier. It’s an ethos that originated in Serre’s early years – untethered to environmental ideologies when she was a teenager, she’d rework her clothes, refresh and customise the old to create something that feels wholly new. Now this crafty ideology is a part of her brand DNA; from her Paris studio, Serre and her team work to unpick existing pieces bought up second-hand – each garment remade is totally unique, and she calls them couture. “When we do plastic, it’s from the ocean. When we use polyester, it’s recycled. When we use wool for tailoring, it’s recycled, too,” Serre said, in an interview for our A/W20 issue. “Even if it’s not regenerated from old garments ... Every day, you have to make it better and it’s never finished. And it never will be.”

Casting models of various ages from 24 nations, unity was the main takeaway. The fashion business can be fickle and the world is menacing, but Serre can be relied on for a little optimism in the fashion week schedule, and at Pitti Uomo, the Florentine sunset seemed to help send the message.