The designer’s sustainably-minded staple has become a must-have for a new generation of fashion fans
What’s been all over Beyoncé, on stage with Lorde, on the front row with Rosalía, on Dua Lipa’s new album shoot, and in Insta shots with Kylie Jenner and Stormi? It could only be one thing: Marine Serre’s moon prints.
Serre – described by none other than Karl Lagerfeld as “1m50 but (with) a will of steel” – is one of the most exciting and innovative young designers out there (as proved by her win of the LVMH Prize only a year after graduating from fashion school). But if there’s one thing you know the Paris-based designer for, it’s her crescent moon emblems, most often found decorating tattoo-like second-skin garments. Already having achieved cult status, these pieces – including leggings, tops, and turtlenecks – are instantly recognisable, redone each season in different collectable colour combinations. (Full disclosure: I own two tops, a bodysuit, and two sports bras, and I want more).
Since appearing in her first collection, shown at the LVMH Prize; on the runway at her 2018 fashion week debut; and interspersed with Swooshes in her Nike capsule, the young designer’s now-signature moon motif has proved it’s got real staying power beyond just being a celebrity go-to and Instagram staple.
“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,” Serre reveals of how the symbol speaks to the values of the brand she’s established, beyond just being a familiar logo. She’s drawn to the chimeric nature of the moon, and the way it’s represented different things culturally, from lunar phases to ancient goddesses, Islamic iconography and even iconic 90s anime Sailor Moon. “It is one of the oldest symbols that ever existed, present everywhere, and that keeps evolving with us... It is never stable and timeless at the same time,” she says, noting its “thoroughly feminine” nature.
“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 Serre
While her futuristic, ritualistic collections – often inspired by how humans might dress after an apocalypse – have evolved to include upcycled couture gowns, it’s her accessible, sporty, printed basics that are the fan favourites. Such is their popularity that Serre has created an entirely new line, BORDERLINE, for all pieces designed to be worn as layers next to the skin: including the moon top, leggings, gloves, underwear, and cotton top with moon logo. “The moon top is super comfortable like a sports t-shirt, warm, (and) fits like a second skin,” Serre says of the hero piece. “You can move how you want while wearing it and it’s made of recycled fibre. The colour and style fit with everything.”
And as her label rises in popularity, the moons do too. According to a spokesperson from fashion search platform Lyst, searches for Marine Serre in general increased significantly after March and are currently up 22 per cent month-on-month. And, no surprises, “the moon printed tops are among the most wanted pieces of the brand, with Marine Serre’s moon-print stretch-jersey top being the most viewed product of the brand over the past one month” of May 2020.
“I really love the athletic style, and it hits that intersection between sportswear and luxury that I enjoy,” says Anna, 27, who considers a Marine Serre moon top one of her first major purchases after making a conscious decision to “move totally out of engaging with fast fashion and making a conscious effort to sparingly buy luxury”. “I like that it’s light and form-fitting enough to work across the seasons so it felt like a nice staple investment – I scoured the internet and put myself on multiple restock mailing lists for the colourway I wanted.”
British retailer Browns has had its eye on Serre since the LVMH Prize, according to buyer Costanza Lombardi, with its early investment in the brand paying off. “The clients’ reaction really exceeded our expectations when it came to the first season’s sales,” she says – noting that Browns has only bought into the brand more with each passing season. To Lombardi, the designer’s success among customers is down in part to her “interesting development of the concept of a logo… and very business savvy decision to have a signature range of products from day one, also at an entry price point”. A pair of leggings runs around £300, with tops starting just under £200.
“The moon printed tops are among the most wanted pieces of the brand, with Marine Serre’s moon-print stretch-jersey top being the most viewed product of the brand over the past one month” – Lyst
She also credits Serre’s canny ability to recognise and pioneer a kind of casual, functional luxury young shoppers like Anna want to wear, especially when it comes to the moon tops. “It’s not only the print that makes the success of that product, but the fact that she understood the potential of bringing stretch jersey and sportswear into the picture… Applying this to luxury meant she was expanding the concept and the relevance of luxury to be closer to her audience. Marine’s work reflects the youth reality in all her clothes.”
While the BORDERLINE pieces might get them interested, Lombardi says customers have found more of Serre’s collection appealing – especially the sustainable approach that has been intrinsic to the brand since “way before this became a real movement in fashion”. “The signature moon jersey styles are definitely a great commercial success, however, we are happy to see that our customers are very interested in her upcycled garments, tailoring, and denim,” she says. With Serre’s Instagram and YouTube both giving behind the scenes views on the remaking process – like how vintage denim is reworked, and second-hand leather gets a new lease of life – her brand is clearly set apart from both independent contemporaries and luxury powerhouses alike.
“She’s proved that designers can take the environment seriously without compromising their vision,” notes Alec Leach, founder of environmentally focussed fashion platform Future Dust. “She’s setting a powerful example – it shows the rest of the industry that there's no excuse not to take action. Plus her upcycling program is the best in the game.” Serre’s sustainable approach reflects an important mindset-shift in young fashion-savvy buyers away from the box-fresh and brand new. “I'm keen to edit my wardrobe to reflect my wider values, by shopping sustainably, and supporting young designers,” says Anna, citing “brand values, sustainability, and transparency” as reasons that inspire her purchases.
Like Telfar’s signature bag, and ASAI’s iconic Hot Wok tops, Serre’s moon print pieces – the perfect combination of recognisable product, functional garment, and a sustainable mindset – function as a recognisable, collectable way for people to buy into the designers who represent a new, democratic, conscious vision of luxury. “I don’t mind that the all-over moon print becomes famous if the meaning is what we wanted it to be: crossing boundaries, freedom and hybridity,” says the designer of the success of her staple. “It always makes me really happy to see people dressing (in) my designs, famous or not, with moon or without.”