From the Faces issue
Think, deconstruct, reconstruct. This is the credo of the new face of Paris Fashion Week, fashion designer Marie Adam-Leenaerdt.
If Paris is often referred to as the capital of fashion, Brussels could lay claim to that title, thanks to its bubbling creativity and the pool of talent it brings to light every year. Between its cobbled streets and eclectic architecture, there are countless fashion designers who have passed through the ranks of La Cambre, the talent factory whose fashion design department was created in 1986. Matthieu Blazy, Marine Serre, Anthony Vaccarello, Olivier Theyskens, to name but a few. All cultivate their passion in the shadows of the big houses and catwalks, with the modesty and discretion that characterize the Belgian spirit. Among the new faces to emerge from La Cambre, one name is currently on everyone's lips: Marie Adam-Leenaerdt.
Graduating in 2020, the young Belgian didn't wait long before exploding her talent in the face of Paris Fashion Week. Last March, she unveiled her first show for the Autumn-Winter 2023-24 season at the Crowne Plaza. The 27-year-old designer unveiled timeless, "quiet" fashion. Her approach? "No names, no collection titles". Rather, "to arouse surprise, emotion, to cross time and generations." Marie Adam-Leenaerdt has no time to pretend to be something she's not. Going against the grain of trends, she offers pieces where luxurious materials flirt with deconstructed casual-chic, and where "precision of construction and luxury of materials are the best guarantors". There's nothing baroque or extravagant here. "Branding and ostentation are far removed from our core values. Materials, quality of cut and finish are at the heart of the brand."
For Marie leaves nothing to chance. Behind her reassuring silhouettes in sober hues, she imagines pieces in a thoughtful, playful and quirky way, as if she were telling us, amused, to look a little further than the tip of her nose. "With a touch of derision, I observe everyday objects, a blanket, a towel, high tables", confides the designer. "I change their meaning, modify them and transpose them onto the body as timeless garments. Trendless where the strength of the cut, the precision of the construction and the luxury of the materials are the best guarantees of enduring over time."
On the inspiration side, Marie draws her singular imagination from many different sources, a succession of images and archetypes that can be diverted from their original meaning to find a strange or surreal side. She conceptualizes things that can be thought-provoking: "We seek to avoid automatism and restore importance and status to clothing, presenting it as we would a piece of design that we keep through the seasons to create our own collection." An original conceptual approach and a strong aesthetic not unlike those of the disruptive Demna Gvasalia, with whom the designer worked for several seasons.
From her time at the great houses of Givenchy and Balenciaga, Marie remembers the organization and ensemble of roles that make up these contemporary beehives, as well as "the rhythm that forces spontaneity". And she confides: "What I like is the work of gesture, which can get lost when you have too much time to think. I'm very lucky to work with workshops. And above all, a group of good friends." As we write these lines, she is preparing to open the SS24 Fashion Week ball with "a timeless wardrobe that pushes summer to the extreme", she promises. A few days ahead of her next show in Paris, when asked if she feels like she's at the turning point of her career, she replies matter-of-factly: "It's not the turning point, it's the beginning".