Ever since Portuguese duo Marta Marques and Paulo Almeida launched their eponymous line in 2011, they have established themselves as firm favourites of industry leaders – their entire Fashion Week FROW seemed to be decked out in their signature frayed denim. Now, with a global Topshop collaboration launching on the 9th October, they are set to propel themselves even further into the wardrobes of “quietly defiant women and girls” around the world. Incorporating 68 pieces, the range was inspired by Marta’s sister Sofia, resulting in a collection that is simultaneously a throwback to the late 90s while remaining thoroughly modern and determinedly wearable. See it here in an exclusive shoot by Amy Gwatkin and styled by longterm collaborator John Colver, and read on to hear from the designers about the collaboration and the music that inspired it…
Other than Sofia, what inspired your collaboration with Topshop?
Marques'Almeida: All of our early nineties research and references, the early Corinne Day and Kate Moss shoots, old magazines and our first M'A collections.
How do the two of you work as a team – is it a harmonious dynamic?
Marques'Almeida: We disagree all the time! But we think that's a very good thing; Paulo and I have very different ways of working, different skills and also different aesthetics but it has been the combination of the two that has made MA what it is. We can discuss the proportion of a sleeve for ages, it's quite fun. But we also understand each other very instinctively – we've known each other for 10 years and worked pretty much always side by side so we're very used to working together, we don't know it any other way.
There’s a lot more colour in the new collaboration and your SS15 range than you traditionally use – what inspired the shift from a more monochrome palette?
Marques'Almeida: We've been gradually growing our collections and range and started introducing more colour for AW13 and that's what really pushed this Topshop collection too. I guess there's never a specific reason as to why we do something like that because it's instinctively what we feel like doing creatively at the time.
You say that archive copies of magazines like The Face influence a lot of your research – where do you find them?
Marques'Almeida: We used to look at all of them at the Central Saint Martins library back when we were doing our MA – but after that, we bought our own vintage copies and continue to do so! We have a few editorials and adverts that we really like: old Katharine Hamnett adverts, shoots done by Corinne Day and Melanie Ward...
How do you keep your aesthetic modern whilst retaining these influences?
Marques'Almeida: That was always a very big thing for us: the collection could be nostalgic but it shouldn't feel vintage. I think that we design pretty much based on mood and attitude rather than being product focused – so I think that what we take out of the 90s is the kind of attitude and vibe. When we design, we instinctively look for something new and fresh so hopefully it comes out that way.
What sort of girl are you designing for?
Marques'Almeida: Quietly defiant women and girls.
What five tracks did you listen to most when you were designing the collection?
Marques'Almeida: We were listening to a lot of Skunk Anansie and Lauryn Hill!
SKUNK ANANSIE – “HEDONISM (JUST BECAUSE YOU FEEL GOOD)”
SKUNK ANANSIE – “CHARLIE BIG POTATO”
SKUNK ANANSIE – “WEAK”
LAURYN HILL – “DOO WOP (THAT THING)”
LAURYN HILL – “LOST ONES”
All clothes by Marques'Almeida x Topshop; Photography Amy Gwatkin; Styling John Colver; Hair Hiroshi Matsushita; Makeup Cory DeKing using MAC cosmetics; Model Mollie Cruickshank at Select Model Management. Special thanks to the Leader family.