Somewhere beyond the Eiffel Tower, in a tunnel whose entrance was illuminated by a murky green light, Marine Serre held her latest show. Or, as her press notes put it, “Here something is brewing, fermenting, yeasting, radiating.” Climate wars are destroying civilization, and “tiny branches of rather peculiar people” are giving birth to new communities deep underground.
“Rather peculiar people?” Hey, sounds like the fashion world on a good morning in Paris.
And so it was. Serre is one of the most serious young talents in fashion. Roughly half of her garments are made from repurposed blankets, silk scarves, and denim, and the results today were uniformly excellent: It was her most polished collection since her runway debut a year ago. Despite the earnest tone of her concept, the only thing brewing here was a creative evolution of Serre’s tough feminine style.
In less than a handful of collections since she first came on the scene, she has laid down her signature, not only with her crescent-moon logo print but also her lean silhouette with athletic elements. You could recognize her style even in a weird cave — the printed jersey dresses that spill plainly over the body, the tunics made of recycled scarves, a top-stitched jacket in cotton canvas that slightly evokes a historical mode, an hourglass ski parka in moire silk. Serre recalls Martin Margiela in her ability to draw on 19th and early 20th-century shapes without making them seem literal. There’s just a trace of the original.
For Serre, the dystopian vision — she called the collection “Radiation” — was simply a means to an end. “I see apocalypse as something positive, because it brings energy to creativity,” she said backstage. Her goal was to work with things of “no value,” like duvets converted into ponchos, tartan blankets into a bustier minidress, bits of driftwood and oyster shells into jewelry.
Along with her updated scarf dresses, made from swags of material in random colors, the strongest pieces this season were the tailored coats and jackets, often with rough patches of fake fur on sleeves and collars. A sleek coat in black and green plaid looked gorgeous. As she said, “I wanted a total look, really clean, to continue the story.” In her previous show, in September, Serre seemed tentative about her direction, with some designs not well formed. Today, she showed that she can work through problems of creativity — which are compounded by the fact she’s also dealing with repurposed (or, as the current industry term has it, upcycled) materials.
“That’s the hardest part of my work today,” she said. “It’s not to create, it’s to produce the things that you want to produce properly — how to upcycle and also make it look perfect in stores.”
This show also had a political edge that felt of a piece with her street sensibility and which is overdue generally on the Paris runways. Some of her face masks and a fluorescent yellow utility jacket and pants (and a puffed minidress) seemed a direct reference to the so-called Yellow Vest demonstrators here. Anyway, the intent didn’t come off as shallow.
Back in the ’70s, when Yves Saint Laurent and Karl Lagerfeld were tykes, no one could really imagine that one day the two would be gods, that Karl would even be pictured on a Coke bottle and have a famous cat named Choupette. Will we be saying the same thing about Simon Porte Jacquemus in the year 2040?
Jacquemus doesn’t seem to mind if we wonder at least. A year ago, on social media, he teased us with a #newjob hashtag, causing some to wonder if he was going to Celine. Well, no, he meant his first men’s line. Yesterday, at the start of the Paris fall shows, Jacquemus’s set resembled a charming village square in the South of France, complete with laundry on a line and a green grocer. Who else loved a big set? Lagerfeld, at Chanel, of course. And Christian Lacroix and Inès de La Fressange, a friend of the late couturier’s, were in the front row.
It’s nice to be able to report that the collection delivered. Lately, the clothes have felt pretty skimpy, as if the young designer were phoning in sketches of halter dresses from Ibiza. Jacquemus’s cutting style has always had a freehand quality; he did not go to design school, and at the start of his career, his naive technique was his main hook. He still has that indifferent quality, but now it’s balanced by beautiful, somewhat oversize coats in white, fuchsia, orange crush, or a tattersall check, and a lanky, all-season pantsuit in taupe, shown with white sneakers. There were also strong knits.
Earrings looked like little hankies and a fanny pack composed of four nylon bags hinted of a peplum, or maybe a flotation device for a swim in the Med. Jacquemus has a way of making structured clothes look cool and relaxed, and you wonder what he could do if he had the resources of a bigger label. But he still has to show, the way the gods did, that he has the patience to take his offhand style, and refine and refine it.