Nobody Does Dystopian Chic Like Marine Serre

Photo: Estrop/Getty Images.

Is it tacky to care about fashion in the midst of a global health crisis? Maybe. But also, as my mom always says, life is for the living; and by quoting her I mean to say that in order to have the strength to fight climate change and coronavirus and everything else, it’s important to remember why we love being alive. 

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Marine Serre’s fall ‘20 show allowed viewers to hold both feelings — fear of death and love of life — at once. The audience sat on benches so low, we were nearly on the floor; the space was dark and mirrored, other-worldly from the get-go. Imagining a future in which humans are spread out on inter-connected planets, the collection was grouped around the different cultures on our new hypothetical homes, and the individual environmental and metaphysical challenges they face. An all-white skirt and top, complete with silvery tights and a white face-scarf to protect from moonlight; a double-breasted, floor-length coat fit for battle. Puffer jackets with hoods that, structurally, extended from the torso like an insect thorax, to protect from extreme cold. A black dress with puffer sleeves and a ball-skirt made for time travel. Serre’s visual narrative was so convincing that these scenarios seemed completely within the realm of possibility. 

Photo: Estrop/Getty Images.
Photo: Estrop/Getty Images.

Even though the collection was sci-fi, the extreme wearability of the vast majority of the pieces grounded this future in today’s reality: chic medical face masks; elegant means of sun protection; a tiny pink backpack strapped to a leg. There was even a perfectly tailored wide-legged black pantsuit, which I would like to put on right now and never take off. The clothes were all dystopian but also appealing. Perhaps we’re closer to a dystopian reality than we’d like to admit. 

Nearly half of the collection was made from recycled fabrics, and the Frankensteining of materials was intentionally obvious, hinting at a future — and present — in which upcycling needs to become the norm. And speaking of the future, the last few looks of the show starred children, a metaphor for hope that was as optimistic as the fuchsia, frilly dresses she ended with. Despite the changing climate, the spreading disease, the political drama, life will go on.

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