In Los Angeles, H.Lorenzo’s Retrospective Celebrates Marine Serre’s Artistry
On view until Nov. 30 at H.Lorenzo, the “Marine Serre Couture Database” retrospective charts the Parisian brand’s eco-futuristic garments from past collections, showcasing the designer’s craftsmanship and unparalleled vision. Here’s what it was like at the exhibition’s opening reception.
Photography by Janice Louise.
Exiting the car onto the evening-lit sidewalk outside the H.Lorenzo store on North Robertson, the first thing I notice is the crescent moon behind the glass display. It glows red against a turbulent purple-orange sky, its hollow belly facing downwards. There isn’t anything particularly special about this celestial logo, but I know I can recognize it anywhere. Few brands manage to cultivate a symbol that’s so umbilically connected to their existence as the crescent moon is to Parisian designer Marine Serre.
“The moon for us is like an icon, an emblem, an image, a representation, a flag, a language, a metaphor, an object of what we believe in: crossing boundaries, hybridity and freedom,” Marine told Dazed and Confused. Fast-forward six years from its inception in 2017: Marine Serre is one of the most prolific brands of the moment, thanks to its commitment to sustainability and an honest approach to upcycling. And this exhibition – which features runway looks from spring-summer 2019 all the way up to fall-winter 2023 – is proof.
Curated by H.Lorenzo, a multi-brand boutique based in Los Angeles, the retrospective starts at the storefront with couture pieces from the designer’s more experimental “Red Line.” (There are four lines under Marine Serre, each representing a different vision and varying in wearability and function.) One mannequin is dressed head-to-ankle in safety orange: a fluffy knit balaclava and coat made from upcycled ‘80s knitwear. Another is swathed in a fur coat meticulously constructed out of deadstock leather and animal-print fleece bed covers – an unadulterated piece of brilliant showmanship.
Another sports a knee-length black bubble skirt with a utilitarian-inspired jacket – the opening look from Marine Serre’s 2020 spring show. The collection was called “Black Tide,” and fittingly, the color palette drifted toward dark and foreboding blacks, tapping into the theme of climate crisis – something the designer cares about deeply. There’s so much of Marine Serre’s artisanal aptitude evidenced here; I make a mental note to come back for another look. (These pieces are all made-to-order via H.Lorenzo, with an up-to two months’ lead time to procure fabric.) But for now, I turn around the corner and head toward the opening reception.
It’s around 7:40 p.m. when I make my way to the entrance, and the party is just coming alive. Music spills from the doors. The line for the bar — serving beautifully presented Marine-Serre-inspired cocktails — is quickly gaining length. There’s chatter and gusts of laughter. Everyone’s having a good time, dressed in the brand’s second-skin tops and denim. (I myself am sporting boots from the fall-winter 2022 collection.) Some guests pose for photographs by a custom-made armchair upholstered in the brand’s signature crescent moon print. Others peruse the ready-to-wear pieces from Marine Serre’s past collections, which are displayed in the middle of the store.
I notice some favorites: an ivory sweater made from vintage crochet tablecloths, a long-sleeved pink dress constructed from regenerated t-shirts, and an upcycled denim dress with crescent-moon bra inserts, done with incredible attention to cut and detail. Seeing these pieces side by side, I’m reminded of why I love the designer so much. She rescues and resuscitates such a creative variety of left-behind materials across so many industries. She’ll gather a stockpile of overproduced towels, for example, and craft them into shirts. She’ll find floral quilts – made with a Provençal quilting technique – and patchwork them into a dress. Crochet tablecloths, tea towels, old denim, wrinkled tops from the ‘90s and early 2000s. All transformed.
It’s absolutely amazing how strategic and purposeful Marine and her team are – giving life not just to the piles and piles of unsold, landfill-bound stock, but also to the businesses that couldn’t sell them. That, coupled with extraordinary workmanship, is Marine Serre’s true magic. It’s a kind of magic that’s especially palpable to me here tonight at H.Lorenzo, with so many Marine Serre-heads coming together to celebrate the designer, floral-rimmed cocktails in hand.