The art of storytelling with Casablanca, Bode and Marine Serre

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Jan 23, 2023

After the Louis Vuitton concert with star Rosalía and that of the Japanese women’s group 1966 Quartet, which performed Beatles hits for Kenzo on Friday evening, fashion designers stepped up the pace this weekend on the Paris catwalks. The Men’s Week was an opportunity for several houses to reinforce their storytelling by pulling out all the stops. From Casablanca’s call for peace, Bode’s theatrical production, to Marine Serre’s democratic rave party.

Casablanca: speech for peace and the jet-set

Casablanca, autumn/winter 2023/24 – © ImaxTree

To present its autumn-winter 2023/24 collection, the Parisian label Casablanca set up shop on Saturday in a pavilion at the Porte de Versailles exhibition centre. At the entrance, a large sign read “For the peace” written in large letters on a rainbow background. Inside, the brand landed a life-size fighter jet on the huge colourful chequered stage.
Last October, Balenciaga chose a huge mud field as its backdrop to denounce the war and the plight of refugees. Casablanca opted for the hushed salons of what appears to be a large international organisation with the United Nations flags in the background. As if he were to speak at a plenary meeting, designer Charaf Tajer approached the podium, where a lectern and microphone had been set up, to give a speech in favour of peace and youth.

“Last year, my friend Maya told me an incredible story about young people in Syria who were willing to risk everything to experience joy. They were doing something you and I would find ordinary: partying. For them, partying was an act of courage and resistance,” he said, urging us “not to see refugees as numbers, but as human beings, as equals, without hierarchy or discrimination.”
“Today we have a simple choice. Accept the tragedy or use our platform to spread an important message. I’m not saying that fashion is the solution, but we must use our voices to shout loudly and do everything we can to create a better world,” said the French-Moroccan designer. “That’s what this collection is about. A play inspired by courage, reflecting the pain and beauty I witnessed in a war zone. I am standing in front of you and if I talk about it, then maybe you will talk about it too. And maybe, if you are touched by what you see, together we can bring about change for peace,” he concluded.

Casablanca, autumn/winter2023/24 – © ImaxTree

With a good hour’s delay, the show started, unveiling a luxurious collection for jet-set enthusiasts, which was a bit at odds with the speech we had just heard. It was not clear that the brand’s golden youth cared about refugees. At Casablanca, men are dressed in smart suits, with blazers or two-button jackets, white gloves in hand, clutching their elegant travel bags. Sometimes they adopted the immaculate white ceremonial uniform, with the officer’s collar jacket and chest adorned with medals.
The same primary colours that covered the stage could be found in the collection in bright check or stripe patterns. The comfortable cashmere coats featured the brand’s heart-shaped logo in a graphic style. Of course, the Casablanca man travels to the most exclusive winter sports resorts, wearing a plush tracksuit, ultra-white ski suit, snow boots, balaclava or stuffed hat and long knitted scarf. Off the slopes, he takes pride in his look with denim outfits adorned with embroidery, painted silk shirts and openwork knits. For the evening, he pulls out all the stops with a brocade suit and a majestic cape trimmed with multi-coloured glittering stones.

Bode: family weekend at Cape Code

For her second fashion show in Paris (the first was held before the pandemic in 2019), Emily Adams Bode scored a big hit on Saturday by commandeering nothing less than the Châtelet theatre. She set up a stage worthy of the greatest plays that are performed there, all to a full house! The show was also for the young woman, who launched her menswear brand in 2016, the opportunity to celebrate the launch of her feminine line inspired by her mother’s family.

Bode, autumn/winter 2023/24 – DR

The New York designer, who has worked for Ralph Lauren and Marc Jacobs, has always had a passion for old fabrics – linens, old quilts, lace tablecloths, tapestries, eiderdowns – which she collects and reuses in her creations to make unique pieces with “a story and an emotional character”. She is increasingly drawing on the personal stories of her family or the family history of other relatives to build her collections.
On Saturday night, she brought her uncle from her mother’s side on stage to present the “show, which is about family, sisters, Emily’s mother”. Not without emotion, the man
paid tribute to his wife, Nancy, who died last October, as well as to Janet, her sister and the designer’s mother. Emily Bode recreated on stage a residence in the coastal village of Woods Hole, Cape Code, where her mother lived and worked in the 1970s. Through the lighted windows of the typical Massachusetts wooden cottage, one could see the dining room with portraits hanging on the wall, and the vestibule, where a few jackets and a hat were hanging on the wall, while on the porch you could see a couple of dog bowls, next to a few knocked-over pots with dirt in them and a garden hose.

The models left the house to cross the yard towards the tool shed, then exited through the garden. Everything was typically rural-American, including the collection, with its fringed leather cowboy jackets, comfortable velvet suits, dressing gown jackets and ethnic jacquard jumpers. Some jackets and trousers were embroidered with flowers, while several garments were decorated with precious trimmings and patchwork coats were made up of antique fabrics, a classic for the brand.
For women, the Atlanta-based designer imagined a much more chic and glamorous wardrobe with long dresses and sparkling outfits with an old-fashioned charm. Many of the elegant pieces referred to the crazy 1920s. Not even the Christmas tree dress in green tulle was missing from the collection! Everything was executed with precision and refinement. Clothes of great presence, which belonged on the stage of a theatre.

Marine Serre: rave party at La Villette

Marine Serre, autumn-winter 2023/24 – © ImaxTree

Marine Serre invited her guests to the Grande Halle de la Villette, allowing 1,000 people from her community to attend the show, even though they were stuck standing behind barriers and had a hard time seeing anything. Only the buyers, VIPs and journalists were seated in the centre of the stage, where three large towers, shaped like metal cages were filled with discarded and worn clothing.
Smoke, red lights, stroboscopic spotlights, thunderous music… The French designer imagined a rave party animated by a nocturnal fauna whose faces were sometimes entirely masked by disquieting balaclavas or bonnets knitted in dishevelled wool and extending into an endless ponytail.
As usual, the collection featured clothing made from recycled materials. White cotton tablecloths or pillowcases were transformed into dresses or elegant suits, adorned with messages and illustrations recovered here and there. Jackets, skirts and trousers were constructed from various pieces of faded and worn denim. The moiré fabric, as well as the tight-fitting half-moon print suits, great classics of the brand, continue to be exploited in this collection.
Of particular note were these superb biker outfits in white and black leather: a strapless dress, overprotected knee-length trousers and a jacket worn with a simple bodysuit and a pair of Catwoman-style tights. A series of looks based on black vinyl or faux leather combined with bright orange long-haired curly wool elements were particularly striking.

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