Bushfires have decimated the landscape and wildlife in Australia, coronavirus panic continues to spread across international borders and Marine Serre‘s glittery face mask-wearing models don’t offer visual escape from any of it. For Fall 2020, Serre continued to evolve the dystopian (or as the designer would say, “realistic”) vision that she’s become known for in seasons past — though that’s not to say her imaginings were totally without hope.
The French designer presented her latest collection on Tuesday in an undertaker’s-cum-cultural center in Paris outfitted with mirror-like screens, dim lighting and ominous music. Viewers looking for explicit messages about climate change wouldn’t find them spelled out, despite Serre’s reputation for addressing environmental collapse. But there was plenty there for those willing to read between the lines: “the moons will be your friends; the sun, your enemy,” declared a voiceover, calling to mind the way our planet’s very source of life — the sun — has become deadly as increasing amounts of greenhouse gases trap more and more of its heat.
The clothing Serre presented referenced life on earth but also a sci-fi inspired planetary future beyond it. Frankenstein garments made of sweaters stitched together piecemeal and dresses constructed from what appeared to be totally unrelated garments managed to feel more curious than monstrous, and outfits made of recycled carpets called to mind Serre’s long-established upcycling habit (this collection was made from 50% upcycled materials). Outlandish silhouettes were introduced in the form of “Reverend Sisters” who wore balloon-like hoods, but there were also refined takes on tailored outerwear that could serve as the armor for everyday life on Earth as it exists now. Water bottle holsters, bags strapped to ankles and heavy metal jewelry made many of the looks appear battle-ready.
But there were moments of resilient joyousness present, too: a bright pink plush scarf shaped like a stuffed pool noodle felt almost cartoonishly cheery, and the presence of a number of children on the runway also seemed to hint at a sort of hopefulness about the future, in spite of there being much to fear.
“The human question is not how many can possibly survive within the system,” intoned the show soundtrack at one point, “but what kind of systems are possible for those who do survive?” If Serre can help fashion ask real questions about the kind of system changes it needs to become a more ecologically viable proposition, she will continue to be a voice worth listening to.
See every look from Marine Serre’s Fall 2020 collection below.