For those unfamiliar with Marques Almeida, whose CV includes a collaboration with Topshop, celebrity fans including Rihanna, and a young fashion designer of the year prize of €300,000 (£258,000) from LVMH, two consecutive looks at their spring/summer 2017 show at London fashion week epitomise their success.
One model wore a black knee-length knitted dress with metal loops – a wearable take on a classic. The next wore wide pink and silver brocade trousers frilled at the hem, a puff-sleeved sweater with a fringe of orange marabou on one shoulder and red-lensed sunglasses. That’s the formula of this design duo: one part commercial accessibility to two parts Instagram-friendly peacockery.
This collection, shown on Brick Lane in east London, continued on a theme established last season in which Marta Marques and Paulo Almeida worked with girls they found on Instagram, who were cast in the show alongside professional models.
The result meant a sort of naturalism – a lot of the models could have walked straight off the catwalk and on to the streets of east London – but that prize money is still showing its effect, in luxury silk, satin fabrics and custom-made accessories.
The clothes were a mixed bag, as most clothes of young fashion-conscious women are now. There were signature looks familiar to a customer base including Rihanna, Kylie Jenner and Solange Knowles – and their fans (Marques Almeida is on the lower end of the designer label price point, so relatively affordable).
The frayed-denim look that the label started five years ago was there in wide-legged jeans, while slipdresses and the pastel colour palette also featured, most successfully on a series of coloured lace pieces.
There was the pomp of baroque – all curly foliage, feathers and metallics, and some ruched yellow trousers that a macaroni (the 18th-century answer to a hipster) might have favoured, as well as the DIY rawness of punk in frayed denim, asymmetric hems and silver trousers worthy of Iggy Pop. This was also reflected in the soundtrack: Vivaldi with Savages collaborator Trentemøller.
Backstage after the show, a breathless Marques and Almeida said it was collaborating with the women in this show that made the mix come together. “It’s such a collage with punk and baroque,” said Marques. “But it made sense when we put it on the girls, because that mix is how they wear clothes.”
While the LVMH prize money earned in 2015 allowed them to hire more staff, use more expensive fabric and develop accessories, the duo realise it’s consistency that is key. Asked why there was still so much of the raw-edged denim in the collection, Almeida responded that “it grounds everything into reality”.
London fashion week finished on Tuesday, with highlights of the week including Christopher Kane, Burberry and Roksanda Ilincic. The focus now moves to Milan, where Gucci and Prada – two of the most influential shows of any season – will present their collections on Wednesday.
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