Meet Marvin Desroc: A Fashion Talent to Watch

Meet Marvin Desroc: A Fashion Talent to Watch

Marvin Desroc talks with VMAN about his standout collection and the influences which inspired it.

Marvin Desroc talks with VMAN about his standout collection and the influences which inspired it.

Photography: Stéphane Gaboué

Styling: Edem Dossou

Fashion's fresh talents don't always start out as stars. So when a freshly graduated designer puts together a collection both subversive and timely in equal measure, they're an undisputed standout. Marvin Desroc master's collection presented this year at London's Central Saint Martins, was sported by mostly black models and offered a fascinating tension between the masculine and the feminine, with male musculature subtly outlined by fishnet tops, waists cinched by frills or capacious bows, and feet in lacy boots, bringing a fresh voice to the growing crop of designers un-gendering menswear.

Intrigued, VMAN had a chat with this young French designer, whose fascinating exploration of his Caribbean heritage and gender roles make him an outright talent to watch.

VMAN: Can you please introduce yourself?

My name is Marvin Desroc, I’m 23 years old. I was born in Martinique and raised in Paris.

VMAN: When did you realize that you wanted to become a fashion designer?

It’s been a while now. My mom used to sew and make little African dresses as a side hustle growing up. The sound of the sewing machine is something I always knew and liked.

VMAN: What shaped your vision as a fashion designer?

Marvin Desroc: I would for sure say the people around me. I have fearless, black, queer friends around who inspire me every day, in everything they do.

VMAN: Are there designers you particularly admire?

MD: I like everyone. There’s always bits to like from all the greats. I respect anyone who has enough balls to do what we do and to let themselves be open to so much criticism. I love designers from Bob Mackie to McQueen. I’d say the ones that I can somehow relate to, as human beings, are Alaïa and Gaultier. They do hold a special place in my heart.

VMAN: Can you tell us more about your own background and heritage? You've mentioned that people used to say you were an "Oreo". Can you please tell us more about it?

MD: I was born in Fort-de-France. My father is from Martinique and my mother is from Dominica. I came to Paris when I was 4. I was the last of four children. I guess my Caribbean heritage wasn’t as present compared to my siblings, due to the fact that I left the island very young, and I received loads of slack for this. To top it off, I was very flamboyant...it just didn't help. Being criticized because you are deemed to have "forgotten your roots" was very hurtful. Foolishly, growing up I really didn’t give myself a chance to explore this side of me either. I later on did; and I’m still learning.

VMAN: How do your origins shape your vision?

MD: They always come into play, from the way I research to the actual result. An image means something when you incorporate your origins and your own experience to it. Otherwise it’s just fluff, another nice reference that everybody has. What’s important is what this image means to me and how it mirrors my own life experience.

VMAN: How was it studying at Duperré?

MD: It was ok. I was at such a different time in my life at this point, because I barely knew myself. I was so young. So it allowed me to make mistakes, explore what I could do creatively within a safe environment. I enjoyed it.

VMAN: How was it studying at Saint Martins?

MD: Saint Martin's was a different ball game. It was hard but definitely worth it. Everything I explored now had to be thought through again. I came in knowing myself better this time, but they even make you question that certainty, too. The Masters is truly an amazing program. It’s mentally challenging, in all aspects.

VMAN: Your collection at Duperré was pretty focused on womenswear. And your CSM collection also had a lot of elements people would qualify as "feminine". Can you tell us more about your vision on the masculine/feminine debate?

MD: I feel like it’s 2019, and people can do what they want. I’m inspired by my friends who still consider themselves masculine, but still won’t mind wearing a cute sexy female top to show off their body. I do that too, a lot! We do it because it’s fun, but mostly because it’s not that important. There’s an "order" that I believe people want to preserve. And this goes beyond sexuality, because even in the gay community, that debate is still there... I don’t think people are really ready, but when it comes to all this, I believe that this separation can be mended from time to time. And all these "rules" are definitely here to be challenged. Funny enough, time has proven that there has always been a fine line between the two. As we go along in history, what was considered masculine, for example, is now feminine... You never can win with that debate. It’s definitely a social construct that people need to just let go of.

VMAN: How would you describe the collection you showed this year at Saint Martin's? What was the message?

MD: I would describe it as elegant with a touch of softness; yet it feels quite strong at the same time. It was all based on my experience growing up. This feeling  of being "caught in between" two things; that idea of limbo. It's something that I carry with me all the time. Therefore, with this collection you're in between blackness/whiteness, masculinity/femininity, hard/soft...Within that a recurrent theme I'm tackling various issues that are dear to me.

VMAN: There is a a whole new generation of black creatives emerging right now, (photographers, models, stylists, designers, etc.). How do you feel about this new wave?

MD: I hate the word "wave." I believe it shouldn’t be considered as just another trend. It’s something that has been happening for a long time; it’s not something new. People are somehow finally interested in hearing us. Does it have to continue? Absolutely! Is this something that should be considered normal now and should go beyond race? Yes! But other than that, I’m really happy to see this happening, because the power of representation is real. Thankfully, it can only be a great sign for future generations... because now they can see themselves in this industry thanks to those who are leading by example.

VMAN: What are your plans for your brand?

MD: I just want to create and inspire. The word "brand" is a word that introduces so many other aspects that I’m not particularly fan of in this industry. I’m more focused on clothes and the challenges that come with designing. That’s what I love to do! The plan is just to have fun and challenge people’s views through beauty. But most of all, grow.

VMAN: Are you working on any projects at the moment?

MD: I am. I’m always working otherwise I can’t function properly. But I believe in not saying anything before it is out. So bare with me.

Check out photos of the designer's latest collection below.

Shot by Stéphane Gaboué
Credits: Photography: Stéphane Gaboué Stylist : Edem Dossou @ Total Management Model: FL at Studio in Paris

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