Dezeen Magazine

Photo of the marine serre show

Eight-metre-high clothing towers rise above Marine Serre's Autumn Winter 2023 runway

French creative studio Matière Noire used 1.3 tonnes of vintage clothing, compressed into three rectangular towers, to decorate the runway of Marine Serre's Autumn Winter 2023 show at Paris Fashion Week.

The show saw piles of vintage and dead stock clothing, including T-shirts, denim and fabric scraps, stuffed into three monolithic metal cages inside the Grande Halle de la Villette – a slaughterhouse-turned-cultural centre in Paris.

Photo of the clothing towers at the Marine Serre show
Clothes were transformed into towers at Marine Serre's Autumn Winter 2023 show

Marine Serre makes around 50 per cent of its collections from upcycled products and materials, while the other half uses biodegradable and recycled fibres, according to the Paris-based fashion brand.

These circular design principles were carried through to the set design for the brand's recent show, titled The Rising Shelter.

To form the installation, Matière Noire and French set designer Remy Briere sourced 1.3 tonnes of clothes, which will go on to be reused in the Marine Serre's future collections.

Photo of denim in the towers at the Marine Serre show
The towers were made up of denim, T-shirts and scarves

"Today, there is an immense stock of clothes around the world not being used but that can be re-transformed into new pieces," Matière Noire co-founder Felix Ward told Dezeen.

"The Rising Shelter show featured a fully circular set design by Matière Noire," he added. "The clothes were sourced from the Marine Serre studio and they will go back to the studio to be reused in the collection."

Photo of the Marine Serre set
The clothing was packed around a scaffold system

Denim, silk scarves, T-shirts and fabric scraps were organised and separated by garment type and packed around a scaffold system inside gridded metal cages, which compress the garment stacks into their rectangular shape.

"The towers have a scaffolding structure inside of them, which was then covered with panels of clothes that were pre-built in a workshop," said Ward. "These were made with metal grids and a pressure system that kept the clothes together and then attached to the structure."

According to Marine Serre, the show imagines a "future dystopia" in which overconsumption and unsustainable habits have led to the planet's destruction and calls on its audience to address and rethink their role in such issues.

Each year, around 92 million tonnes of textiles are discarded globally. By 2030 that number is predicted to increase to over 134 million tonnes.

Even donated and vintage items have only a 33 per cent chance of being rebought and a 66 per cent chance of being recycled. By finding new uses for deadstock and vintage clothing, Marine Serre hopes to intervene before these garments can end up in a landfill.

Photo of the Marine Serre show
The show took place during Paris Fashion Week

"A trio of oppressively high towers constructed of tightly compressed abandoned clothing echo our own absurd destruction of this planet," said Marine Serre.

"Within this set's scale model of a future dystopia, perhaps we could also imagine that today's guests, huddled closely together inside this refuge of tomorrow – our rising shelter – might actually join forces to fight together, engaged and allied in a push for an improved society."

Two people sitting in front of a tower of clothes
The towers contain a combined 1.3 tonnes of clothing

"This set pulls together a handful of recognizable signs and symbols," the brand added. "As the sun streaks across the space, how can we fail to think about the ever-quickening timeline on which we find ourselves trapped, forced to maintain the unsustainable rhythms of our daily lives that separate us from both ourselves and others?"

"Those disconnections have, of course, precipitated today's equally rapid acceleration to climate disaster, which now seems to have been dialled up to an out-of-control setting."

Photo of a model wearing the collection
The collection was titled The Rising Shelter

French fashion designer Marine Serre founded her self-titled fashion brand in 2017 and went on to win the prestigious LVMH prize for young and emerging designers that same year.

Elsewhere in Paris, Saint Laurent recently presented its Autumn Winter 2023 show in the Tadao Ando-renovated Bourse de Commerce while fashion house Schiaparelli showcased its latest couture collection, which saw faux taxidermied lion, wolf and leopard heads hand-crafted into three gowns.

The photography is courtesy of Matière Noire unless stated otherwise.

More images

The Rising Shelter by Marine Serre
The Rising Shelter by Marine Serre
The Rising Shelter by Marine Serre
The Rising Shelter by Marine Serre
The Rising Shelter by Marine Serre
The Rising Shelter by Marine Serre
The Rising Shelter by Marine Serre