Smells like jean spirit

The Portuguese art of denim

Text by Naomi Bikis

The idea of being squashed somewhere in Seattle with disaffected youths in washed-out plaid, the walls pulsating to the sound of thrashing chords and vocals by a young man sounding angry about something, is just the kind of '90s flashback that sparked the debut collection from design duo Marta Marques and Paulo Almeida. Fresh out of Central St Martins, the pair - both of whom hail from Portugal - formed Marques ' Almeida during their studies. It's a brand you are sure to hear a lot more about. "This AW11 collection is a consequence of our search for a sense of reality and 'undone cool' that we really want our work to transmit. We looked at Corinne Day, Melanie Ward, a teenage Kate Moss and the Seattle grunge music scene as major influences. We started developing this non-caring, cool way of dressing that has something very raw, crude and easy about it," explains Marques. The collection features untamed edges fraying on deep blue tunics and jackets. Trousers are vigorously distressed, leaving the remnants hanging loose and flapping round the ankle like a denim boot. Shots of black appear in billowing cape-like dresses and long-sleeved knits. While the ghost of Cobain is evident throughout the collection, rather than ape the past, Marques ' Almeida's raw aesthetic transforms voluminous swathes of denim from its humble workwear roots into oversized, deconstructed shapes and simple silhouettes aimed squarely at high fashion. Now, after stints honing their talents with Vivienne Westwood's Anglomania (Marques) and Preen (Almeida), and sending their collection down the degree show runway, Fashion East beckons for the duo's SS12 collection. At this rate, nirvana is within their grasp.

  • Marques ' Almeida's 2012 Denim
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