Seven months after winning the LVMH Young Fashion Designer Prize, Marques’Almeida just keep proving over and over again their splendour as a brand, their rarity, and wisdom when following their instincts. Marta Marques and Paulo Almeida are the well-known minds that think in a perfect unison for each collection, calling out the soulful, down-earth freely feeling of the clothing and the fabrics. With a genuine spirit like theirs, these two are literally the coolest kids on the block, only taking part in the scene if they have something relevant enough to say. And for the joy of all the girls and women in the planet, as well as for some boys with a great sense of style, lately they have had. Between travels and fashion shows, between shootings and campaigns, they found some time to chat with us directly from London. And the rain might never go away from this city, but M’A will continue to promote a visceral sunshine attitude, the endless effortlessness one.
Is it possible to imagine Marques’Almeida without Patti Smith or PJ Harvey?
It’s just not possible to imagine Marques’Almeida without girls and women in general, whoever they are!
What is the first clothing piece that you remember to wear with particular joy and enthusiasm? Was it by then that you figured out you wanted to make a living out of the fashion world?
Paulo: I keep going back to old pairs of Levi’s that I didn’t wear ‘cause I wasn’t cool enough – but my older, punkier older brother did!
Marta: I went through a hundred different stages, so I remember fondly both my oversize baggy jeans as well as some fake Tommy Hilfiger super fitted boat neck jumpers I would steal from my older sister! For my birthday I once asked for these grey silver cargo trousers and a white padded vest that I didn’t wear much, but also never forgot. And, at some point, both me and my older sister got our grandmother to add triangles of contrasting fabric to the bottom of our jeans to make them really wide bootleg, mine were also very baggy and I would wear them with men’s boxer shorts underneath. I don’t think there was ever one piece that made me decide anything, but it was definitely very exciting to be able to play around with clothes and style as often as possible!
The late 90s and 2000s aesthetic is something that we keep seeing in all your collections. Could you name the designers of this period that are a constant inspiration for you?
Helmut Lang and (although not necessarily of this period) Rei Kawakubo.
From the first one to the last one, how do you feel and analyse the Fashion Weeks?
It’s hard to say, they keep changing and we look to different brands in all of them, and different brands every season.
Some say they will always have Paris, but you, you will always have the denim. Is that so?
Not really, no! We have no idea if we will always have the denim or if we will have something else. We will always have our instinct and our passion, though.
Do you think that there is a Marques’Almeida before LVMH Prize and another one after it? What does this trust and money injection really mean?
M’A is definitely growing, but it’s growing every month, not just before and after the prize. You can definitely see the changes of the past six months to one year. There used to be four or five of us around one small table, and now there are eleven of us and we each have our own desk – well, except for me and Paulo, we share one! The money means we can do more with our vision, we can explain better to people what we want to do and say, and we can reward and build our team that so loyally and enthusiastically have been with us building this thing.
How do you see the Portuguese fashion nowadays? Is there some kind of nostalgia, professionally speaking, towards the country where you both were born?
It’s hard to keep track of it when we’re away, but we’re very grateful for all that the industry taught us, mostly the people we worked with, teachers and other designers that we were working with when we were starting out. We will always feel a connection to that generation of mentors, not so much to the new generation – we don’t understand them and their motivations so well.
Could we expect a Marques’Almeida men collection anytime soon?
We do some unisex pieces that some guys have been wearing. If we ever feel we have something relevant enough to say in menswear we will build on this!
And what is the outfit that manages to keep you both up at night?
Every single outfit in the collections when we’re developing them!