“Just Kids”, the memoir of Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe was the starting point for the Marques Almeida fall/winter 2014 show. It referenced more specifically the ratchet glamour of the legendary Hotel Chelsea that epitomized the enviable lifestyles of the culturally rich yet starving artists circa the 70s. The design duo sent down a denim-heavy collection doused with plenty of jarringly bright-coloured faux furs that mirrored the flourish of these artists’ ideals against the dingy reality of their circumstances. Marta Marques and Paulo Almeida transposed that message to modern day context as an homage to “the gifted hustling children of today with uncompromising, utopian ideals”, said the press release.
The collection featured raw hemlines, bell bottomed jeans and deconstruction techniques that were a crossbreed of 70’s American fashion and the post-Punk Club Kids of London. The spontaneity of the styles had a strong element of DIY that was both crafty and rebellious in equal measure. Look 11 that featured an orange silk sleeping gown, mercerised indigo denim and an oversized tangerine fur collar were one of the many screenshots of this character on a coffee run in the morning after. The out of bed hair was testament to the glorious night before where these clothes celebrated those youthful visions of grandeur. In the day, the knowing gaucheness of the pieces feels like silent protest against mainstream discourse, an attitude matched by the aloof disposition of the models as they made their way down the catwalk.
Technical-wise, Marques Almeida delivered enough variety without suffocating the narrative. Main themes include using intimate wear as outerwear, appropriating denim as day-to-night options and up scaling ribbed jersey with feather accents. The shoes were also particularly splendid especially the shearling sneakers which could have easily been mistaken for bedroom slippers.
The cohesive story behind the collection is what makes the Marques Almeida show one of the standouts at London Fashion Week. Although still a very small brand, the label showed promise to strengthen its visual handwriting. With poignant narratives and competent execution Marques Almeida has proven this time that they are not just kids.