French-Belgian designer, Marine Serre has been crowned the winner of the 2017 “Young Fashion Designer”: Louis Vuitton and Moët Hennessy Prize for her collection A Radical Call For Love. Chosen from 1,200 applications, Serre was shortlisted with a selection of eight designers, including Parisian favourite, Antonin Tron and British ‘It Girl’, Molly Goddard. The final results were then announced by Rihanna at the Foundation Louis Vuitton in Paris. As well as the title, the prestigious award includes a grant of €300,000 and a year-long mentorship. Serre is no doubt proving her a rising talent, as earlier this year she competed in the prestigious Hyeres International Fashion competition and is a current finalist for the National Association for the Development of the Fashion Arts prize.
The LVMH Young Fashion Designers’ competition was launched in November 2013 in honour of budding fashion creatives and is open worldwide to anyone under forty who has released at least two ready-to-wear collections. The prize has proved successful in its aim to support young designers as last year’s winner, Grace Wales Bonner, has since expanded her menswear brand to also include womenswear. The competition features a jury of prominent fashion figures, including Maria Grazia Chiuri, Nicolas Ghesquiere and Karl Lagerfeld. Each designer must present before the panel, who then adjourn to a luncheon with Bernard Arnault, LVMH chairman and CEO, to decide the rankings. Serre was particularly praised by the judges for her unique perspective, clear business vision and confident presentation.
While the 2014, 2015 and 2016 prizes were each won by London-based graduates of Central Saint Martins, Serre is a graduate of the 2016 class of the Academy of La Cambre Mode in Brussels. During her time as a student, she assisted as a stylist in haute couture for Fred Sathal and in ready-to-wear for Alexander McQueen. Later, she gained internships at Christian Dior and Maison Martin Margiela. It was only last year that the 25-year-old then moved to Paris to work at Balenciaga while simultaneously progressing the growth of her own budding label. Serre has become known for her cutting-edge sportswear, as she channels her tennis-background into her design aesthetic. Her clothing explores the position of fashion in an increasingly tumultuous world and often features traditional Islamic motifs such as the hijab and crescent moon.
The designer created A Radical Call For Love as her graduate collection, gaining her highest honours and the interest of eagle-eyed industry executives. In fact, Serre didn’t enter LVMH online like the majority of her competitors, but instead was approached directly by the competition’s organisers. The collection investigates the relationship between the Arab and Western world, after Serre found inspiration in the terror attacks on Brussels and Paris. Modern sportswear silhouettes are combined with luxury nineteenth-century Arabic dress to create a strong emphasis on futurism. The contrast between opulence and ordinary first emerged in her 2015 collection, 15-21 as she launched the colourful painted dresses of fifteenth-century Flemish primitives into the modern day.
Four smaller prizes are also included in the LVMH competition. The Special Prize of €150,000 was won by Japanese menswear designer Kozaburo Akasaka. Currently based in New York, his brand largely revolves around denim. The three fashion graduate prizes were won by Maija Meiro, Robert Wallace and Mariam Mazmishvili. The Graduate Prize is open to students of fashion schools around the world who are enrolled in a degree course of that year. Each of their universities will receive a grant of €10,000 while the designers will have the opportunity to work alongside the design team of the LVMH brand for one year.
Serre’s label will be stocked in various locations from September this year, including Dover Street Market, Nordstrom and Opening Ceremony. Her next collection is planned for January 2018 and will now be greatly anticipated by top fashion directors and young designers alike.