Part of the M.O. for London-based designers Marta Marques and Paulo Almeida has been to create a dialogue with friends and supporters about what they want to wear, enlisting them to model in their shows and letting them choose the looks they feel most comfortable wearing. For spring 2019, former intern and current muse Laurenca led them to their venue, too, back to the gym of her Paris high school, Lycée Saint-Louis-de-Gonzague, so she could go from awkward teen to runway model in a moment of full-circle empowerment.
“We feel a social responsibility for the images we put out there,” Marques said of the duo’s choice to always cast real-world models of varying heights and shapes, adding that too often in fashion there is a disconnect between the runway and real life.
Upbeat with an edge, the collection was full of everyday pieces you might wear out to brunch with friends, or to go shopping with your daughter, as Beyoncé did in Los Angeles just a few weeks ago, matching her Marques’Almeida rainbow-stripe knit pants and sweater to the artwork on the wall for an Insta photo at L.A.’s Just One Eye.
Folkloric print dresses and dirndl skirts, girlish horse-print T-shirts and T-shirt dresses nodded to the design duo’s roots in rural Portugal, while oversize streetwear staples like gold metallic T-shirts, anoraks and motocross pants worn with white boots were all London. Studded collars and soft clutch bags added dashes of punk. There was also an extended lineup of dresses: a white halter with a flippy miniskirt, a hot pink shantung shirtdress, and a reversible slip in a peppy floral print.
Some of the sheen may have worn off the brand, whose designers won the 2015 LVMH Prize for their artfully distressed denim. And indeed, they seem to have largely moved on from that kind of craft, aside from a few raw edges here and there, to focus on a more commercial proposition with these contemporary-feeling pieces. But what they lack in high-minded design direction they try to make up for in brand values and story. And in this Instagram era, that can be worth a lot. Said Marques, “We’re not into smoke and mirrors.…We’re not too precise about our fit. We just want things to look good on everyone.”