Marques’Almeida Spring 2023 Ready-to-Wear

Until their spring 2023 show, Paulo Almeida and Marta Marques had never looked to the 1980s for design cues. “Our biggest inspiration has always been the 1990s, where everything [was] kind of effortless and raw, a kind of realistic approach to fashion,” Marques explained via WhatsApp after the brand’s show in Portugal, where they’re now based. They always thought of the ’80s as a time of excess, and “power dressing, like this whole idea of femininity in a very glamorized way.”

So how did they end here? Their starting point was the Memphis Design Group, which rose to fame in the 1980s for an aesthetic that favored primary colors and unusual patterns and shapes for everything from textiles to furniture design to interiors. “We started looking into the Memphis movement and then, obviously, Grace Jones and the Black queer aesthetics of the ’80s, and [saw] how [it was] actually incredibly empowering and incredibly rebellious, but done through joy,” she added.

The first two looks, a pink-and-red checkered coat worn with yellow studded mules with black ruffle details, and a yellow popcorn-textured dress topped by a red croc-stamped bra and accessorized with black-and-white striped boots immediately made their references known. If the styling was a bit over-the-top, it definitely seemed like everyone was having fun getting dressed. Marques and Almeida have always been on the side of joy, both in their playful cuts and bold color palettes. This season that feeling was reinforced by the fact that many of the models walked down the runway with little kids, who were sporting their newly launched children’s line.

“We started doing the kids’ label because we are fascinated by how kids effortlessly put things together with, like, no preconceived ideas about fashion, or how you should look,” Marques explained. “We wanted that freedom, and that influenced how we did the womenswear.” And so, adults wore wide-mesh maxi dresses layered under large button-downs, shirts with exaggerated bell sleeves in shiny silk, and lots of sequined trousers and tops, all mixed together in madcap fashion.

There were leopard prints, acid-washed denim, and a super-cool wood grain-ish texture in different color combinations. Many of the same fabrics appeared in the children’s clothes, but in age-appropriate silhouettes. One model wore an oversized white T-shirt with an oversized metal eyelet detail at the chest, paired with lime green acid-washed jeans; she carried a baby in a purple zebra-ish tunic worn with purple and pink leopard jeans and yellow crocs and held the hand of a toddler in a popcorn pink hoodie and lime-green-and-pink wood grain print skirt. It was all wonderfully charming.

Although the number of looks in the collection could’ve been edited slightly, the closing numbers were certainly worth the wait. A neon pink strapless dress with a trompe l’oeil denim waistband detail and an oversized bow at the hip like so many prom dresses of the ’80s and a sleek yet voluminous ball gown in black silk seemed destined for red-carpet greatness, but the Marques-Almeida runway show proved there’s plenty of greatness to be found simply in walking around with your own kids.

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