Marques Almeida hosts a rave in a Jesuit school
Tuesday morning marked Marques Almeida's second runway show on the official Paris Fashion Week calendar, as well as the second Spring/Summer 2019 collection for the brand. Indeed, aiming to get closer to their final consumer, the duo of Portuguese designers Marta Marques and Paulo Almeida had opted to adopt the see-now-buy-now model – and they did so with a collection that was faithful to both Portuguese tradition and their brand's irreverent punk attitude.
As the models walked out beneath a gloriously sunny blue sky, everything seemed to be a reference to the personal histories of the two designers. The venue chosen for the show was none other than a playground with views of the Eiffel Tower, situated on the roof of the Lycée Saint-Louis-de-Gonzague, the Jesuit school where Marques studied during her childhood in Paris. The setting made for an interesting contrast with the irreverent collection sent out by the designers, winners of the 2015 LVMH Prize. As the brand continues to cement its position in the streetwear segment, this latest collection was modelled by a diverse cast of women who took to the catwalk to the strains of "Adios" by Benjamin Clementine.
Looking for all the world as though they were attending a rave in broad daylight, the models sported a variety of after-hours looks with a touch of decadence. As the soundtrack shifted to The Prodigy's "Smack My Bitch Up", out came voluminous structured thigh-length dresses, frilly miniskirts, the brand's characteristic asymmetric shirts and a series of looks in denim. Prints oscillated between stripes and a playful juxtaposition of snakeskin with more naïve floral patterns, as well as motifs reminiscent of Portuguese azulejos. Throughout, there was an underlying conflict between the folkloric tradition of the designers' country of birth and the rebelliousness of London, where both attended Central Saint Martins. The punkiest part of the collection was the accessories: chokers with golden spikes, snakeskin boots, bejewelled heels and leather trimmed motorbike helmets. The brand's "M'A" logo was embroidered onto sweaters, while a large horse was boldly printed onto t-shirts and dresses.
"The thinking behind doing a see-now-buy-now collection was that we wanted to stay close to our customers, ensuring that the idea of celebration and the atmosphere of the runway is transmitted to them as well as to our audience," explained Marques after the show. "So having the pieces available online straight away makes total sense," the designer added, pointing out a piece that had already been teased last season. Marques Almeida therefore gave its show invitees a QR code that gave them direct access to the whole collection, available for purchase on both Matches Fashion and the brand's own e-commerce platform.
There have been no big creative shake-ups at Marques Almeida, the label's designers choosing to follow the path of a natural evolution. "The collection is a continuation of what we presented last time," commented Marques, referencing the brand's previous runway show, held in Paris' Palais de Tokyo. "We're looking to maintain a balance between our Portuguese roots – channelling the influence of the tradition that we grew up with – and the whole London scene, where we've lived for many years. It's a mash-up between our origins and London girls and everything that they represent. Our collection is somewhere between the two." It's certainly an original and exciting mix, lent further intrigue by the rebellious choice to celebrate punk culture in the playground of a highly selective Jesuit school.
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