February 18, 2014 London
Indeed, the designers had some new tricks up their sleeves for their Marques'Almeida line this season. Mainly, they applied a surfeit of jean signifiers—frayed edges, flap pockets, low-slung waists, and bell-bottom legs—to non-denim fabrics. Crushed velvet appeared acid washed, and wisps of ostrich feathers floated off sweaters like extra-long threads. In a way, these echoes—and upgrades—of the populist textile reinforce their reverence for it even more; they want to remind us of denim, whether they're using it or not.
But what to make of all those fur adornments dyed in fun-fair hues? Enter Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe—and don't forget Janis Joplin. Marques and Almeida were imagining what life must have been like back in the heyday of the Chelsea Hotel, and (granted, it's a leap) all that goat hair draping was the result. Ditto the shearling sneakers, which they hope to produce. The shagginess was far more successful when paired with a silken slipdress or pajamas than when padded atop a jean shirt. But there's no question the two are moving in the right direction as they determine how to broaden out beyond denim. (They have made it to the shortlist for the generous LVMH Prize.) And the transition need not be seamless as long as it's authentic.