Marta Marques and Paulo Almeida are the young design duo behind Marques’Almeida, whose denim + denim + denim sartorial equation stood out from the line at the Central St Martins MA this year.
Marta and Paulo met six years ago in their native country Portugal and have studied and lived together ever since. It was only for their final MA collection at St. Martins that they teamed up as a design team, creating a collection of re-worked denim in their 90’s grunge aesthetic. Inspired by a Helmut Lang quote in i-D’s The Smart Issue, 1993 – “Fashion is about attitude not hemlines”, the collection featured oversized silhouettes, layer upon layer of denim upon denim, ripped hemlines and attitude aplenty. i-D Online caught up with the pair.
When did you first start working together? During the first year of our BA we started helping each other with individual projects. It was from then on that we were deeply involved with each other’s work. We also did some freelance projects together, but it was only in the MA final collection that we worked as a duo.
Why did you decide to work together rather than individually? It was always in the back of our minds. However, we felt that during our education and work experience we should work separately, as it would be crucial to develop our own individual identities. When we enrolled to do the MA at Central St. Martins we felt we were getting closer to the point where we could work together. We still started with individual projects and only worked as a duo for the last collection. During the MA everyone is working so hard to find their identity, for us we found it as a joint identity. We were so used to living together and studying together that it was actually harder not to carry on and work together – it was a pretty natural step.
You have both worked for other designers (Marta for Vivienne Westwood and Paulo for Preen) how did you find that time? Work experience is crucial when you’re getting into the industry and it’s really exciting to understand how companies work from the inside. We always knew that one day we were going to set up our own brand, so this experience was valuable in understanding how everything really works.
Why did you decide to work primarily in denim for your final MA collection? It comes from our design approach that revolves a lot around understanding street wear and urban references, but reconstructing them in a completely different context. We thought a lot about this notion of ‘youth code’ and we wanted to be very restrictive with our use of colour. We came up with a solution to only use black, white and denim. We wanted it to be very raw and pure in that sense.
What were your references for this collection? This collection is a consequence of our search for a sense of reality and undone cool that we eagerly want our work to transmit. Following a Helmut Lang quote in i-D’s The Smart Issue, 1993 – “Fashion is about attitude not hemlines” – we dove into the early to mid-nineties. We looked at the street and grunge style of approaching fashion and started developing this non-caring way of dressing that has something very raw, crude and easy about it. We always start our work process by researching the mood and the attitude of this girl we are talking about, as we feel this is what fundamentally sustains our point of view. It made sense with our quest for reality and attitude that the 90’s served as an inspiration, being that it is, after all, a generation we grew up with.
Where do you find your inspiration? In real girls and their everyday lives. The mundane is weirdly very attractive to us, especially the casualty and the randomness of it. We have a tendency to be very indiscrete when we see girls that we see on the street and for some reason feel are very inspiring. They’re usually very normal young girls, not your average fashion put together girl. We seem to be very attracted to rawness or crudeness, the real side of an image, which is not that common in fashion.
What are you working on at the moment? We’re building our own brand and slowly learning everything we need to learn along the way.
Images courtesy Marta Marques and Paulo Almeida