The Upcycled Fashion Brand that’s Wow-ing the World
“I do hope designers just entering the industry will truly believe in themselves and their art.”
From 7th to 12th grade, I attended a private school in La Jolla, CA. Every day we wore uniforms. . . knee-high socks and all. I craved “free dress days” when we were allowed to rock our own attire (with regulations, of course, which I broke perpetually); and I planned my fits down to the last detail. So I never thought a day would come where I’d say this and mean it: I love pleated skirts. The shape and style strikes me as extraordinarily sexy while not hugging every single curve of the lower body. The fluid sway in the design tantalizes with each step and hip shake, and a high-thigh length can let your leg muscles flex. My black, pleated mini is a go-to for a first date: I feel comfortable but fashionable, hot but hidden, youthful but sophisticated. There is a bit of infantilization and fetishism built into this item, and yes, I’m leaning all the way into both. So when I first discovered Flore De Sermet’s unique approach to this girly girl’s fashion must-have, I jumped straight into research and acquisition mode: I needed to know more about this dope designer.
Flore De Sermet finished fashion school in Berlin where she continues to design her self-named collection. Still an emerging creative in the industry, Flore works part time at a 2000s style shop where she has a vast array of resale items which serve as inspiration, and she notes that some of her fashion icons are American celebrities from the same era. Her designs are primarily upcycled pieces, mixing bold, idiosyncratic patterned fabrics with denim, khaki, and black, all handcrafted in her atelier. These one-of-a-kind pieces range from hats to crop tops to flared pants, and prices vary from 59-310 EUR (totally worth it for a garment that truly no one else will have!).
In the Shop All section of her website, I found myself straying from pleated minis (but don’t worry, I’ll circle back) and salivating over flared trousers. One iconic item is the Black and White Dalmatian Patchwork pants. From a far, these look like high-waist, bellbottom jeans with striped swatches of white and speckled grey, but upon closer investigation – and taking a hint from their title – I noticed that the spotted material actually included the faces of dalmatians, no doubt pulled from a vintage outfit that simply called for this remaking. These jeans are genuinely eye grabbing: the contrasting materials audacious enough to stick out in any setting. And if the Wannabe’s ever restock, you can count me as first in line. These shapely, boot cut trousers have a camel-colored crocodile front and a denim back. Seriously, I’m trying to put my ass in a pair; the back pockets have been removed, leaving only the dark shade of the denim underneath and the waistband has been dropped to a deep V with elongated beltloops (I imagine this would hit my butt crack just right and flatter my cheeks). And highlighting your assets is something Flore focuses on; she mentions that she loves the human form, particularly a rounded rear. It’s 2021 and we’re reporting from Los Angeles, so I think it’s safe to say: we agree.
As it turns out, I’m not alone in my adoration of the pleated mini. The designer comments that this is also her favorite piece from the current collection. Using the front zipper and pockets from a pair of levi-look-a-likes, she adds her signature, strange fabrics (think teddy bears and puppies in bowties) to the bottom and back, creating texture with the materials. I have the denim and white option in my cart, which could pair easily with any top and work for a variety of occasions in our land of endless summer. In early September and amidst NYFW, (TouristMagazine_) gave this garb a shoutout, saying that “Upcycled skirts by Flore De Sermet are a work of art.” With a large and ever-growing following, a compliment from this on-trend outlet carries weight. I have no doubt that we’ll be seeing Flore De Sermet skirts sweep America.
While I find Flore’s aesthetic particularly appealing to my ultra-feminine flair, her pieces can and should be worn by both men and women. Styled feature shoots have shown slim, beautiful men wearing pants with dramatic, ruffled cuffs and looking absolutely stunning. And let’s not forget that we’ve seen both Russell Westbrook and Pete Davidson rocking skirts in recent weeks. I’m here for a daring statement done right! Flore explains that bridging historically typical (aka Male/Female) genders is an important part of her art, and notes that Berlin is especially open to gender fluidity – which better allows her creativity to breathe and flourish.
Though she humbly refers to herself as a young designer, media coverage of past and current attire includes Parisian magazines like Paulette and the Swedish publication and store Nuda Paper. And don’t worry, we aren’t the only outlet reppin’ for the US; a new collection from Flore De Sermet will even be available for purchase exclusively in an NYC boutique (announcement and details to follow). As many of her garments are made-to-order, it’s worth your while to plan ahead and press purchase. I’m anticipating Flore’s fame and influence to only escalate from here.
September always speaks fashion to me, so it was an honor to sit down with this bright visionary this month and learn more about her passions.
What inspires your designs?
I am truly inspired by nature and painting, and I love the idea of presenting a collection every spring (which is my favorite season), when everything comes to life after winter.
Who were your fashion icons growing up?
Gwen Stefani, Avril Lavigne, Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen, and Lindsay Lohan.
How do you hope to inspire and influence other up-and-coming designers?
I do hope designers just entering the industry will truly believe in themselves and their art. I also hope to see more ethical choices concerning creation, which is something that is very important to me and my process.
Your website mentions that your line “celebrates the beauty and sensuality of bodies freed from social restrictions” – What social restrictions do you hope wearers of your line are freed from?
I want all people to feel free to wear my garments and to express their personalities while wearing them. I hope wearers of my line never think, “is it for men or for women?”
On a similar note, what do you think is the obligation of fashion to make a social or political statement?
I don’t know that fashion always has to make a social or political statement – I wouldn’t call it an obligation, but I do think fashion needs to be more aware of its environmental and ethical impact.
What do you love most about the human form? What about the human form do you hope to celebrate with your line?
I like the form of the body in general, whatever the gender. I like to enhance some parts such as the booty. I want everyone to have a nice booty wearing my pants, whatever the body shape or type.
What is most unique about your creation process?
I take precious time to handpick my fabrics or the vintage pieces I use in my process. What makes my creation process unique is the fact that if the fabrics run out of stock or if I only find one example of a vintage piece, I won’t be able to reproduce my items. So almost all of them are one-of-a-kind pieces, and if you purchase one, you won’t see anyone else wearing it.
Do you have a favorite piece of all time? A favorite piece from the recent collection?
I’d say that my favorite piece of all time is my ruffle blouse. It’s an haute couture dévoré blouse with a lot of ruffles on the sleeves. It’s a very delicate piece. From my recent collection, it’s definitely my pleated mini-skirt.
What is next for you? How do you hope the brand will grow and evolve?
I am working on a new Haute couture collection. I hope my line will grow internationally, and that I’ll be successful enough to work solely on developing the brand and producing more pieces.