Fashion weeks make it easy to be bored of nostalgia. The canonical references to clichéd 20th century fashion eras get recycled every season and with such frequency that it’s become a parading yawnfest of predictable tropes. We see bouffant blowouts and school girl French New Wave references at least a dozen times every fashion week. 40s film noir mystique, 80s materialistic glamour, drag racers and circle skirt rockabilly looks, 70s bohemia, and the overkill of 1990s’ nihilism. While the pace of recycling fashion decades accelerates, the race to storify the aesthetic of the early 2000s presents a new narrative project for designers. And it’s beginning to trend in a big way thanks to young Gen Y/Millennial fashion visionaries who grew up listening to Country Grammar and wearing bandana bandeau tops and baggy flares.
One of its brightest champions is Marques’Almeida, the rising Central Saint Martins grad duo who are renown for their denim mastery and trend forecasting abilities. Their solo debut on the London Fashion Week schedule last season saw them push a hard early-2000s vibe soundtracked by Basement Jaxx, Chemical Brothers, and a remix of All Saints’ Never Ever. Few designers could translate the perennially optimistic aesthetic of the early aughts into such a palatable collection. Reminiscent of classic JLo music videos and SClub 7 reruns, their trademark denim is low-slung and falls ruggedly or flares out at the ankles. The asymmetrical bandeaus, gauzy flowing tops, and boxy cowhide pieces are very haute Nelly video vixen and the clunky sandals wouldn’t be out of place in a TLC photoshoot. In interviews they often talk about the “Marques’Almeida girls” they design for. These girls, women now, likely came of age in the 2000s, an era so voraciously mediated by corporate taste-making and the rise of the internet that vivid music video memories and the iridescent candy colours of first generation iPod Shuffles can easily generate real sentimentality. Such deliberate representations often risk ironic disassociation that allows the audience a humourous distance from the era, but Marques’Almeida’s presentations feel uniquely immersive and celebratory. This past summer I visited the designers’ pop-up shop in Hackney and got to step into their world, trying on some of their A/W 13 pieces and lusting after their clunky sandals. At the time I was taken aback by the soundtrack they were earnestly vibing to. Deep Brandy and Britney cuts and some really terrible Chemical Brothers tracks. After talking to them about how they envision their pieces worn and how excited they are for their upcoming seasons it was obvious that they are designing for their generation. They recently shared a similar mix with Opening Ceremony that should help you get into their mood and embrace the wide-eyed optimism of the noughties, wide-leg boot cut flares and all.