OSCAR HELIANI — You presented your first show at Calentito, Blanca Li’s dance studio in the 19th arrondissement, and your second show at the Jardins d’Éole, an outdoor setting in the same area. How do you choose your venues?
MARINE SERRE — For my “Manic Soul Machine” collection, I wanted a square space that had a raw concrete feeling without being too underground. When it comes to venues, the challenge is to find an affordable space matching all your criteria. The best solution is to reach a compromise, finding a location outside the area where all the fashion shows are held. Besides, I liked the studio’s neighborhood, and I used to practice contemporary dance myself, so I may have been unconsciously attracted to Calentito. The whole collection was related to movement: models were asked to walk in a choreographed way, and the fabrics were flowy, which was a perfect match. While working on the “Hardcore Couture” collection, I was walking one day with my sister on this long bridge under a beautiful sky, and it hit me: “Isn’t this the perfect spot for a show?” A huge catwalk crossed by all types of people: a guy on his bike, another one playing music, men exercising, and people taking a Tai Chi class. The day of the show, people in the garden could also watch the collection. I wanted everyone to be part of this experience. The only reason I decided to show outfits on men and children (who, by the way, walked with their real parents) was that I was seeking some realness. People never complained that these two locations were too far away.
OSCAR HELIANI — How would you describe your style?
MARINE SERRE — I don’t think of myself as an artistic director. I try to have a global vision for the brand, from design to production and merchandising. As fashion is always evolving, I would rather refrain from any definition of identity or style and avoid getting stuck there. But I can give you a hint about what I’m trying to achieve. I want to bring to my customer, who is between 18 and 65 years old, a very shaped silhouette with all the means to be free. I focus on proportions, and I pay close attention to shoulders. But if a woman wearing my design feels uncomfortable, this means I missed my goal. The women in my team and I try on all the pieces to ensure that everything is comfortable.
OSCAR HELIANI — Are you suggesting that other designers are not always down to earth?
MARINE SERRE — I have no comments to make about other designers. I would add, though, that we have to find a balance between the designer’s dream and the reality of the garment. Dreaming is important, but one should keep a sense of irony, too.
OSCAR HELIANI — What are some of your most popular designs?
MARINE SERRE — Our “Green Line!” It was really challenging to design. Having a limited quantity of fabrics, I had to think constantly about whether we had enough upcycled scarves to go into production. But the added value of this line is huge, and every piece is different from the others. The customer understands the time we spent collecting the fabrics, assembling and finishing the garment. And, above all, the final product is nice. I don’t want the customer to look like a clown. When we started the “Green Line” for the “Manic Soul Machine” collection, I didn’t tell anyone about the process. I wanted to check if people really liked it or not, without having in mind that it’s upcycled fabrics, so they should like it. We did it again for the “Hardcore Couture” collection. The “Green Line” pieces were the best-selling ones. It was the perfect time to launch this line. I’m lucky because five years ago, I’m sure that it wouldn’t have been as successful.
OSCAR HELIANI — If you had one fashion statement, what would it be?
MARINE SERRE — Keep your eyes wide open.
By Oscar Heliani for Purple Magazine