London Fashion Week: Jump into the fray with Marques’Almeida

Shredded denim, Nineties nods and frocks filched from interns? The compelling mix of Marques’Almeida, London’s freshest talent, is odd but compelling, says Alexander Fury

“We always steal our interns’ clothes.” That’s an unexpected closing gambit from Marta Marques, one half of the London design duo Marques’Almeida. But it makes perfect sense.

Their studio is based in east London, where the average fashion intern is in their early twenties and achingly cool, either a student of – or a recent graduate from – one of the capital’s world-renowned colleges, such as Central Saint Martins. They know how to design clothes and how to wear them, too. Hence the fact Marques and Almeida (the other half of the Marques’Almeida team) often pillage their student placements for inspirational garments.

It isn’t a one-way street. A good number of fashion students opt to wear Marques’Almeida, too. That’s because the label taps into the same school of cool.

Its instantly identifiable signature? Shredded and frayed denim, first and foremost. It’s been the backbone of the Marques’Almeida look since they graduated in 2011 – from the Central Saint Martins’ MA, as it happens. But increasingly, their remit has broadened.

For winter 2013, they showed ponyskin jackets in zebra prints and deep rust and billowing raw silk ball skirts. That silk carried over into spring 2014, twisted around bodies in bandeaux bras, alongside a few diaphanous bias-cut slip dresses.

Pieces from their 2014 and 2013 collections Pieces from their 2014 and 2013 collections
For autumn/winter 2014 – the collection they’re due to showcase on Monday – Marques’Almeida have upped their game, again. “We started thinking about the Chelsea Hotel. We started thinking about silky pyjamas and satiny pyjamas, so it kind of goes in and out of really different references this season,” says Marta, gesticulating at a patchworked board of reference images. “And it’s that Tom Ford Gucci collection,” she says, swiping her hand across a shot of a 1997 powder-puff fur chubby on a kohled-up Amy Wesson. “And there’s a lot of satin, which started with Galliano dresses,” another swipe, across a few intricate goddess gowns from Galliano’s Suzy Sphinx show.

Tom Ford and John Galliano? That’s the slightly terrifying thing about Marques’ Almeida: their reference points are from the recent past. Not the Seventies, but the Nineties version of the Seventies. It’s Janis Joplin and Patti Smith as reinterpreted by Ann Demeulemeester and Ford’s slinky Studio 54 moment at Gucci. Marques’Almeida are young, like the majority of their customers. Their line is stocked in the trend-driven Opening Ceremony boutiques across the world, and purchased by people who don’t remember those Gucci shows first time around, bar blurry VHS catwalk footage or pictures in Vogue.

Growing up in Portugal at the turn of that decade, Marques and Almeida have a hazy memory of the time themselves. “I don’t remember being quite conscious about fashion, back then. It was mostly about what I wore and my friends wore and my sister wore, and, for us, it was about that for the first couple of seasons,” says Marta, explaining away any accusations of a nostalgia trip. “Portugal’s not a great place to live around a lot of fashion references.”

“I was planning to go into architecture at the time,” adds Paulo. They chose fashion instead, however, meeting at CITEX Fashion School in Porto (the country’s second-largest city) before moving over to London together to study. “The other option was to stay in Portugal and do fashion and work in a factory,” says Marta. “We ran off and thankfully ended up here and thankfully ended up on the Saint Martins MA.”

They had, however, already formed a bond. “We met on the first day of class on the BA [at CITEX],” says Marta. Paulo picks up the thread. “We’d do separate projects, but...” Marta: “We always would consult each other, ‘What do you think about this? I think you should add that’. And we did that until the middle of the MA at Saint Martins. It was always separate collections, really different... we got in separately.” Paulo grins. “Luckily, we were both accepted.”

There’s lots of sentence-finishing and joint gesticulation going on. The two work in tandem from a single small office. There are two sets of sketches pinned on to the wall: Paulo’s the more linear and graphic, Marta’s splashed with colour. And alongside a mountain of reference material, featuring plenty of Galliano and Gucci as well as Kate Moss in panne velvet and a smattering of decidedly dodgy early Noughties Dolce & Gabbana, hangs the start of their autumn/winter 2014 collection. Kate’s velvet makes a reappearance, in a stiff upholstery velour with a rich brilliantine sheen, while shaggy goat and sheepskin are dyed in vibrant, Sesame Street shades of tomato, Lurpak yellow and power blue. They’re even extending it to shaggy, shearling-smothered sneakers that end up resembling bath loofahs. Despite their continental upbringing and that initial BA, there’s something about the Marques’Almeida aesthetic that feels quintessentially London.

Moodboards and sketches from autumn/winter 2014 Moodboards and sketches from autumn/winter 2014
For a few seasons – they showed with Lulu Kennedy’s Fashion East incubator for two seasons, before their first presentation under Topshop’s NEWGEN scheme for spring 2013 – they lacked a London stockist. Overseas boutiques bought steadily into their cool distillation of British punk style (whatever that means), but the capital’s retailers eschewed their rough-and-ready denims. That’s all changed – they’re stocked in Opening Ceremony, but also at MatchesFashion.com.

“It was such a strong collection,” said MatchesFashion.com’s Natalie Kingham of their spring 2014 offering. “The pieces felt effortlessly cool. I think they will fly out.”

While Marques’Almeida in Opening Ceremony feels a bit like preaching to the converted (if their shredded jeans would be bought by anyone, it’s the OC’s uber-cool and hyper-young clientele), MatchesFashion.com stocks them alongside heavyweight international labels such as Gucci, Saint Laurent and Marc Jacobs. They fit right in. Because, just as those labels epitomise Milan, Paris and New York respectively, so Marques’Almeida emblemises London. “We wouldn’t be able to do it anywhere else,” says Paulo. “Because the way of thinking is so different from anywhere else. Maybe I’m wrong but we have this idea that all the young New York designers, they all start by doing something ladylike in the beginning and then start moving into a cooler thing.

“In London, it’s the other way round.”

Arts and Entertainment
The first film introduced Daniel Radcliffe to our screens, pictured here as he prepares to board the train to Hogwarts for the first time.
booksHow reading Harry Potter helps children grow up to be gay-friendly
Sport
Frank Lampard will pass Billy Wright and equal Bobby Charton’s caps tally of 106 caps against
sportFormer Chelsea midfielder in Etihad stopgap before New York contract
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Aladdin is performed at the Tony Awards in New York in June
theatreBrit producer Lythgoe makes kids' musical comedy a Los Angeles hit
Sport
Usain Bolt of Jamaica smiles and shakes hands with a competitor after Jamaica won their first heat in the men's 4x100m relay
sport
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Life and Style
ebookAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
Chancellor George Osborne, along with the Prime Minister, have been 'complacently claiming the economy is now fixed', according to shadow Chancellor Ed Balls
i100... which is awkward, because he is their boss, after all
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux play teeneage lovers in the French erotic drama 'Blue Is The Warmest Colour' - The survey found four times as many women admitting to same-sex experiences than 20 years ago
filmBlue Is The Warmest Colour, Bojack Horseman and Hobbit on the way
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleBenidorm actor was just 68
Arts and Entertainment
Preparations begin for Edinburgh Festival 2014
Edinburgh festivalAll the best shows to see at Edinburgh this year
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    (Senior) IT Support Engineer - 1st-3rd Line Support

    £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful IT service provider that has bee...

    Wind Farm Civil Design Engineer

    £55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

    Principal Marine Mechanical Engineer

    £60000 - £70000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

    Principle Geotechnical Engineer

    £55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

    Day In a Page

    Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

    Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

    Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
    Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

    Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

    When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
    5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

    In grandfather's footsteps

    5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
    Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

    Martha Stewart has flying robot

    The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
    Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

    Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

    Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
    A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

    A tale of two presidents

    George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

    The dining car makes a comeback

    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
    Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

    Gallery rage

    How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

    Eye on the prize

    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
    Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

    Women's rugby

    Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
    Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
    Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

    How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

    As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
    We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

    We will remember them

    Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
    Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
    Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

    Acting in video games gets a makeover

    David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices