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Without even waiting for or hearing the sound of a starting pistol, Marine Serre came straight off the blocks with thriving creativity drawn from intuition and experimentation. This took strength, brilliance, keen sincerity and a certain blindness, or at least a vision sharply focused on the horizon, unerring, just fixed on one goal – her own – which she already knew was shared by others. Little did she realise that the rhythm of this race would last so long at the same intensity – four years is quite something!
And then there was this alignment of the intimate and the extimate, which astounded the planet and shunned the frenzy which characterises the fashion industry, but not Marine Serre. From the outset, she had no intention of following its dictates, but rather she took advantage of direct routes. It demanded courage and perseverance. Like-minded individuals recognized her single-mindedness, which had been forged almost instinctively. Her graduation collection, conceived, created and produced in Brussels, was anchored in a city that is the very embodiment of the hybrid. She entitled it “Radical call for love”. It rang out like a unifying call that would assemble a tribe under a single banner, like a jigsaw of mosaic beings. Individuals on the same wavelength, driven by the attraction of bodies and ideas. They all spoke the same language, sometimes unwittingly, or else they understood absolutely that this new vocabulary would ultimately bring about changes, step by step. So Marine Serre became a brand, a house, better than a logo, a family, perhaps even verging on the mystical.
Last spring was an adrenaline-fuelled ride for her, driven to create and to survive – it was not a ruse to become an archaeologist of textiles: it was just a given. Her vernacular was without doubt genetically mapped from the very start, into every detail, every fabric and silhouette of her wardrobe, into the joyful research and into the shared process of creative intelligence. The challenge was to name things well and to sharpen ideas in order to reshape a lexicon, articulated around life, and to anchor it, all together, in the everyday. After all, who might understand a “Regenerated” garment? Who could possibly imagine the effort upstream, or the distance to travel? Who could guess the amount of work, sweat, attention to detail, the care invested in each reinvented – and therefore, saved – remnant? Who would recognise the reincarnation of yarns, shapes, fabrics, classics? Who really embraces cyclical hybridisation?
Since Marine Serre had no answers to these questions, she chose to show what is most important to her in images, words and movement, focussing on these fundamental issues. And so, she made her way from utopia to a reality that she fashions day by day, and dreams of sharing – without ever imposing – her vision. It is a question of correcting, analysing, simplifying, not insisting on what no longer matters, establishing consistency, taking risks, thinking about prices, working out the practicality, the comfort, volume, making it work. Finally, her Rubicon is taking it to the street – her Ecofuturism is ambitious. The why and the how make sense. They allow us to transcend the brutality of the world, with concern that is integral to the fragility of things and to the individuality of others. For all these reasons, please receive this book and the rest as a gift; as an invitation to enlarge the circle, the tribe, in conversation imbued with modesty and integrity.
Four small pictures intersperse this text, because there was no way to slip them in otherwise: they are out of the box, but they matter. They tell of sisterhood in the fields of Corrèze, the vivacity of contrasts, the joy of work – always teamwork – well done, and of the power of symbols, especially the moon, which belongs to each one of us.
Further on, in a succession of carefully categorized images, we will wander through Marine Serre’s collections from A to Z. Her four lines, criss-crossed by this deliberate process of regeneration, bear a watermark that could borrow that clichéd term “upcycling”. Her archives, hand-picked, positioned, sometimes rediscovered, catalogued under White line, Gold line, Red line and Borderline, are redefined by the fabrics from which they are composed and which are woven through them. These fabrics are the very essence of Marine Serre. Icons. Just look at their journey as they pass through the hands of each precious link in the house. These hands reclaim them, adopt them, take care of them, treat them with love to give them back life and shape, without ever forgetting where they come from, the residues they contain, the weight of their history, the strength of their repertoire, revisited with abundant freedom, but always with the greatest of respect.
In one fertile movement, these first four years entrench the foundations of Marine Serre. She sees them as the pillars, the cornerstones, the points of interconnection, “but the ways forward are many and varied.” And, since the fabrics bring forth the silhouettes and therefore the clothes, they form permeable sections. Hybridity is at the heart of the aesthetic and of the ethic. In the true genesis of a collection that is sustained from season to season, in continuity, allowing reflection and fluid narrative. Discover the fleece bedcover, leather, denim, moire, silk shawls, tartan blankets and scarves, sweaters, t-shirts, rugs, household linen, workwear, tailoring. Everything makes sense. And the eclectic mix creates the mood. It takes dexterity – listening, above all, to what resonates in these scarves, this jersey, those denim trousers, all the discarded blankets, this worn knitwear, these tapestries, weathered leathers, those abandoned tea-towels, this workwear, those twisted yarns… all reconstructed. This bounty – soon to be exhausted – is retrieved from the warehouses where Marine Serre sources materials to regenerate – the very identity of the house. Serre neither dwells in the past nor languishes in nostalgia, but rather, reworking these relics, she expresses a love of the material and the body, the fabric, the weave: with an unquenchable thirst for learning and an uninhibited respect for transmission. As a result, she has incorporated her artisan vision into the fashion industry. It certainly takes on the dimensions of a challenge, and therein lies her beauty. May we learn from this. Just like those women, men, children, dogs, cats who live in Marine Serre. They inspire – she reveals. They form the nucleus of her tribe, the heart of her circle that is just waiting to grow. There is no need for initiation, just the desire and a taste for appropriating archetypes day-to-day, in an intimate, sensitive and joyful way. As you turn these pages, you will come across those beings who began this dialogue with Marine Serre, you will encounter them, in vibrant portraits that have the naked beauty of little secrets. They embody, in their own unique way, her contemporary timelessness. With the same impetus, they interpret as closely as possible her Cornerstones, her pillars, the foundations that she chose at the start, with great independence, and that today, with the energy that characterizes her, she opts for once more. This is not an empty promise.
Curl up in this cuddly fabric. Often a covering, whose life of wretched bedspread was generally over. A worthless object condemned to a sad, little death. With Marine Serre, it has made a comeback. And, from its primary function, derives a design garment, a functional garment. From bedspread to red carpet. The range of options is boundless; the transformations, bold. The idea of a cocoon, however, remains.
The feeling of skin on skin, double armour that speaks of strength, radicalism and timelessness. Perhaps even, by implication, a sense of rebellion. A sense of invincibility. Especially since leather does not wear out. Better still, it distorts and ends up being wedded to the body. It follows the slightest movement. Adds stylistic notes. Bonds with all sorts. It also goes with the furniture. It transcends age. Lends itself to endurance.
It papered the walls of bourgeois apartments. And, in the days of Napoleon III, moire functioned well as a petticoat. “I was looking for my very own nylon.” Serre found it in these twisted yarns with a psychedelic air, distinctive to the touch and an almost gaudy shine. A fabric much loved from the very start and still today, in unbroken continuity. Impossibly perfect for hybridization, the stretch and release between sportswear and sublime craft.
Scarves in silk, natural fibre, light, sensuous. Transgenerational object, transitional object, conveys pure elegance. As a fervent archaeologist of textiles, Marine Serre has been collecting them forever. They allowed her to break the glass ceiling of upcycling: a real risk. Let the colours do their work. Take full control of it. Organise them into graded colour palettes – hunting green, burnt orange – until harmony reigns. Of course, it all ends up in a dress, soft, draped.
Or de Nîmes. Or, as the French say, jean. But not just any. The trousers alone, archetypal pieces with unwritten rules riveted into the collective subconscious. More everyday than the everyday. The twist here is in the construction of jeans patchwork composed only of other jeans in authentic denim: only cotton allowed. Obviously, they have had a life. And, regenerated, sometimes tinted naturally, they effortlessly carry the hallmarks of their previous life. Leaving space for originality and continuity.
Horizontal and vertical stripes of different colours for scarves and blankets with their patterns of clan origin. Mufflers fallen into disuse, blankets abandoned in the trunk of a car that recall childhood and lunches on the grass. Picnic memories, Scottish imagery, punk allusions. To be saved from oblivion. These tartans may be interwoven, blended with jersey and thus hybridized, and always in the interest of reality and of bodies in movement.
Everyday t-shirts. With logos. That say something about those who wear them. Reminiscent of a moment in time or a dream-team – trip, concert, demo, football team – symbolic jersey-knit. A fascination for Marine Serre. Logos that require careful positioning; they need to make sense. The thoughtful insertion of prints. Exposing extracts of dialogue, as if at one with the skin – “What can I do for you today?”
Carpets from all over the world, with no fear of travel. Towels that wipe feet and body. Brocade cloth, patterned and often fringed. A real material, which hides neither its texture nor its artisan origins. Standing back. Honouring the past in the present. Rewriting history. Imagining a framework for pushing boundaries. The pragmatic encourages the creative. Inevitably sparks fly.
Named crazy pull-overs in the absence of an appropriate pigeonhole. Woollens that are impossible to categorise, casually blended with infinitely symbolic Arans. They lend themselves to experimentation. The intertwining of yarn, the juxtaposition of stitches, the geography of patterns that open up ground-breaking fusions and fertile combinations. Tacitly, the slow process of transformation can be discerned.
Everything that decorates the house and dresses the body at night. Crocheted tablecloths, identical curtains, tea towels, doilies, bed linen, cushion covers and lacy polyester nightdresses. The same white universe. Sometimes peppered with floral motifs. Intrinsic utility does not preclude attention to detail – quite the opposite. This is what Serre likes. This, and the different degrees of transparency and opacity, the forgotten techniques, a sniff of the chaste and also something of the ceremonial.
Practical clothing. Conceived for work. Where functionality reigns. The star of the show is the multi-pocket jacket in beige twill, sported by the grandfather Sunday-fisherman. This piece sets the tone for the rest of the collection. Such precision. No question here of tinkering, every detail counts including zip, pockets, fasteners, capacity. A real brain-teaser. Above all, a bit of balance is required. From the outset, Marine Serre has been working on her archetype and today she is returning to its essence.
Neither a fabric nor a material, but a category that makes sense. It is enshrined in an intimate grammar of standards and strict elegance. Among all Marine Serre, tailoring is the only one not regenerated in the strict sense of the term. But, adhering to the basic principles, the fabric is made from recycled yarns woven into a lozenge shaped print, that now presents the moon in a geometric design that borders on the abstract. Otherwise, it is for couples, families and collectives, which alludes to the power of the tribe.