Meet the Beloved Womenswear Designer Now Making Tie-Dyed Silk Sweatsuits for Dudes

There are lots of reasons to believe Paris-based designer Marine Serre is the future of fashion: she’s an alum of Demna Gvasalia’s Balenciaga and Matthieu Blazy’s Margiela, to start. She integrates couture techniques with jersey fabrics and sleek silhouettes pulled from performance wear, creating beautiful, considered, and extremely cool clothing that solves problems both minute (how do I carry all my stuff without lugging a giant bag?) and global (how do we produce clothing in an environmentally responsible way?). When she says she’s inspired by the apocalypse, she isn’t giving us a creepy soundtrack and a warcore vest. She’s actively rethinking clothing’s role in a society that can feel as though it’s falling apart. When I asked her why she made a whistle, for example, she said, laughing a little, “You know, at the end of the world, when we all have no phones, we will still have the whistle, and we can still find each other.”

Serre is primarily a womenswear designer, but she’s quietly dripped a few menswear looks into her collections, which are available today for the first time on SSENSE. (The collection she showed during Paris Fashion Week, in late February, was only her third runway show; Serre is 26. *gulp*)

While men and women (especially the fashion freaks Serre tends to attract) have gotten used to pulling from lines designed for any gender, Serre wanted to create garments specifically for men. “Some of the [pieces] could be kind of made for women and men,” Serre said in an interview Wednesday morning, but “I’m also first of all a patternmaker and a draper,” she said. “I like things to be really precise.” A loose, unisex silhouette isn’t Serre’s deal.

So, she says, “I simply started to work on [my] iconic looks,” like those stretch jersey catsuits and shirts printed with her crescent moon logo, which she shows layers under other pieces like a second skin. But knowing that those aren’t going to be every guy’s cup of caffeine, she also developed “a total new fit for men.” Standouts include a fleece jacket (the must-have menswear garment of the moment), in a bold print of pink flowers and gold scrolls, which is made out of—no joke—deadstock bed spreads. “We selected two patterns that we liked, and then we just [had to] buy everything before the show to be sure that we will have the print available for the production,” she explained. “That was, of course, a risk”—designers usually wait to order fabric until they have a sense of their wholesale orders, but that gives you an idea of how costly and unorthodox it is to make upcycled clothing, which is a much-talked about concept in the sustainable fashion movement that Serre is actually pursuing.

courtesy of ssense

Another grail is her tie-dye jogging suit, made in moiré silk fabric, another Serre signature. (It serves as the lining of her women’s handbag, which is actually a rhythmic gymnastics bag with a deadstock silk scarf as a strap. She said a number of male customers have started buying them, too). Moiré was used in the 18th century for interior design and upholstery—sofas, curtains, and even on walls, and it was then picked up by couture designers in the ’50s, who loved its shine and watery design, the result of pressing the textile while wet. It is, Serre said, “a very bourgeois fabric.” So she wanted to give men “the suit of 2019”—a track jacket and pants—but thought, “If I do it in moiré, I will give him also something weird, and about transformation.” It’s hard not to see what she means: the piece is the present, layered over the past, and done in tie-dye, the great neutral of our era—only it’s a complex degradé dying technique that’s incredibly difficult to apply to that moiré fabric. Luxe, without looking snobby.

If this kind of luxurious craftsmanship defines Serre’s future-oriented designs, she is pragmatic about working and creating at a healthy and sustainable pace. She doesn’t do pre-collections, or hype-driven product launches, nor does she have plans to launch a standalone menswear line. “I’m not, for now, thinking about designing couture-like pieces” for men, she said. “But I will not be against the idea, because I don’t believe that only women can dress in crazy shapes.” She muses about a “really long coat with an extremely padded shoulder, inspired by an 18th-century coat for men.” But at the moment, “I’m just trying to stay really honest with what I feel and how I want to create.” No drops—just drips.

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