Meet the Designer Who Just Clinched the LVMH Prize

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Rihanna with LVMH Prize winner Marine Serre. Photo: 2017 Bertrand Rindoff Petroff/Getty Images

The Paris fashion elite flocked west to Fondation Louis Vuitton this afternoon for the LVMH prize ceremony, eager to learn which of the eight young designers selected as finalists would be boosted with prestige and prize money to push their labels forward. The shortlisted selection was whittled down by 45 international experts — ranging from Emmanuelle Alt and Suzy Menkes to Kendall Jenner and former footballer Hidetoshi Nakata — after designers presented their collections in Paris in early March.

The finalist jury included J.W. Anderson, Maria Grazia Chiuri, Nicolas Ghesquière, Karl Lagerfeld, Humberto Leon, Carol Lim, Phoebe Philo, Jean-Paul Claverie, Pierre-Yves Roussel, and Delphine Arnault. Rihanna — wearing a long white lace number and a black hat — announced the winners. (Imagine winning thousands of euros AND having Rihanna say your name!)

Tokyo-born, New York-based designer Kozaburo Akasaka won the Special Prize — his menswear and womenswear are inspired by music subcultures. French-Belgian designer Marine Serre, who graduated one year ago from La Cambre Mode(s) Belgian Fashion Design Academy and has done stints at Maison Martin Margiela and Balenciaga, took the top LVMH Prize. Her collection, per press materials, “combines 19th-century Arabic luxurious garments (caftan, karakou, sirwal, etc.) with corporate sportswear trends of the 1990s and 2000s.”

In an interview with the Cut after the prize announcement, Serre called her looks “vêtements hybrids — in the form, you see references to culture, sportswear, traditional techniques. At the same time, they’re easy to wear, put on, zip up. That’s the brand: easy wear but desirable.” Although her label has only existed for seven months, it has been snapped up by Opening Ceremony, Dover Street Market, and Parisian concept store The Broken Arm.

When asked about the political tinge of her collection — entitled Radical Call for Love — she seemed impassive. “The moon, you mean?” she queried. Indeed, that: The crescent, closely connoted with the symbol of Islam, is plastered all over her collection’s high-heeled boots, headbands, dress sleeves, and bodysuits. “It’s the symbol of this collection. You can read the logo as something political — it’s something I leave open.” When asked if it’s a theme she will take up again, she said she couldn’t comment on the subject. She continued: “Everything is political and nothing is political. Fashion today isn’t just making a skirt; it’s making references to what’s there. I do that, with a lot of respect and admiration.”

Delphine Arnault, sequestered in a quiet room after the Prize announcement (“make a right at the Ellsworth Kelly,” were the directions to find her) beamed at the selection: “A woman got the prize — and she’s French!” she said. “I’m happy for her… she has a great vision.”

Meet the Designer Who Just Clinched the LVMH Prize