This was Marques'Almeida’s strongest collection to date. In fact, it was maybe the strongest collection of London Fashion Week. Sure, it lacked the polish or the opulence of some of our capital’s slightly more established designers. There have been an absence of the showmanship or sense of pomp and theatre of the more luxury brands, but it had authenticity. That’s the hardest quality to fake. Marques'Almeida are as much about community as they are collections. The 'MA girls', their social media followers, the cute, 20 something babyfaces who walk in their shows, all help build the cult of the brand, hammering home that these clothes are relevant, meaningful and, most importantly, have a life off the runway. A fun life. One where girls clash tulle with denim while out and about, or break hearts in sorbet-shaded slip dresses, or embrace retro futurism in all its glory in shiny silver trews.
Marques'Almeida have evolved a lot since they first emerged on the scene and, with just a couple of collections, re-imagined the street style set in frayed denim. Then, their collections were vaguely muted, crafty and, largely as a result of the fabrics they prioritised, humble. Today, they offer something more designed - something braver. They’ve established who their woman is - a very modern, yet slightly nostalgic young woman, a girl about town (or make that a girl about Instagram) - and now they are dressing her up, challenging her, pushing her out of baby blues into retro pastels, stripes and come-to-bed accessories.
Their show notes took an odd form. Seemingly random sections of a conversation between Marta Marques, one half of Marques'Almeida, and Rita Tavares, the label’s retail manager and right hand woman, were printed. Conversation - it’s an interesting format for a release. For many brands it would feel redundant. Say J.W. Anderson - he makes statements and propositions. His collections are formed with conviction and intuition. It’s purely his vision. Marques'Almeida’s collections are more of a dialogue - an exchange between wearer and maker, community and designer. 'It doesn’t end after the show anymore I think, it’s not a one season thing that we say 'ok now it’s over, let’s start all over again'. Do you feel that?,' asks Tavares at one point. Yes, the distinction of seasons are over for Marques'Almeida, just as they are for many designers right now; seasonless is the new, current buzzword. MA have built their world. Now they’re just tweaking and adorning it, gradually and consistently.