Marques Almeida – Pre Spring/Summer 2016 Ready-To-Wear
It’s not quite a month since Marques’Almeida scooped the cash (€300,000), the kudos (plenty), and the care (a year’s mentorship from the mother ship) that comes with winning the LVMH Prize. To claim it, Marta Marques and Paulo Almeida had precisely 10 minutes to pitch Karl Lagerfeld, Marc Jacobs, Nicolas Ghesquière, Phoebe Philo, Raf Simons, Carol Lim, Humberto Leon, Jonathan Anderson, Riccardo Tisci, and Delphine Arnault. They tried to define who they are and where they’re going. “It was like X Factor, but with at least twice the number of judges,” said Almeida today—before declining to name the LVMH jury’s Simon Cowell.
What Marques’Almeida is not about, they made clear, is jeanswear. Because sure, while their early collections so memorably majored on what Marques categorizes as “special denim,” it was their approach to that fabric—rather than the material itself—that defines their practice. “It’s that undone-ness, that rawness, and the whole ’90s aesthetic,” she said. “It was incredible to speak about that with someone like Marc Jacobs, thinking about the Perry Ellis collection, and trying to keep it cool! And Raf was remembering being in Antwerp and reading those editorials in the Face…but we are not replicating it or being nostalgic—it is about extracting that ethos.”
The distressed brocade we saw at February’s Fall ’15 show was a first sketching of that signature upon an unfamiliar canvas. For this, their first Resort collection, M’A’s nu-grunge was repatriated to Brazil and shot on Sofia—who is both M’A muse and Marques’ “grumpy sister” (Almeida’s description). Special denim remained subject to their formula of loving abuse. But just as frayed were the fussed strips of striped organza that fronted loosely fitted silk satin slips—these bad-girl cocktail dresses should fly. Loose-weave light knits were slashed and knotted just like their long-mistreated T-shirts, which came reinvented here as beachwear. Digital jungle-print silks and sequin-spattered florals—whoa, florals—were a clash of decorative ripeness against house rawness. Polyamide pseudo-surplus outerwear and an extended range of sized-up, ostrich-feathered bags represented extended brand proposition. Marques’Almeida has established the handwriting, now they’re writing it large. “I think it was very much a surprise that we got it,” said Almeida of that prize. Come off it.