If Alexander Wang, Monse and Demma Gvasalia all had a love child it would look something like a Marques Almeida collection, and that is a wonderful thing. Co-designers and brand namesakes Marta Marques and Paulo Almeida met at fashion school in their native Portugal. Upon graduation they both moved to London to work for the likes of Vivienne Westwood and Preen while furthering their educations at Central Saint Martins. Their brand first came to life in 2011, but it wasn't until the 2014 season that Marques Almeida began to show independently. Their design esthetic begins with frayed denim and follows no rules beyond that. Combine a youthful attitude with boundless structure, volume, color, print and textile and you only being to scratch the surface of influence. Despite the multitude of design they infuse in each collection, somehow each season is cohesive, inspiring and above all, fresh. The refusal to conform to any strict body type, color palate or design staple has earned Marques and Almeida the LVMH Prize for Young Fashion Designers in 2015.
Korean designer Ji Oh launched her eponymous label in 2014 at New York Fashion Week, and the next day she found her debut collection on the cover of WWD. With a strong esthetic toward simplistic, menswear inspired clothing, Oh produces her line in her adopted home of NYC, sourcing the finest local materials from around the world. It takes true talent to be a minimalist designer, to know when and how to gently embellish a look with a cinch, a buckle, or a trim of fringe without betraying your basic foundation of design, a skill that Oh has mastered in a short period of time. She shows incredible restraint in her designs, all the while playing with volume, masculinity and texture, a combination that appeals to the modern woman in a luxury market. 2016 has only brought Oh’s young brand more prestige, being named as a CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund finalist.
Let’s face it, everyone looks good in black. Black is armor, black is chic. Black can emphasize glamour and elegance, or shield you from the outside world, all depending on your mood. An all black collection is hardly revolutionary, however that is the firm approach that British designer Catherine Quin decided on for her debut luxury capsule collection in 2015. While the fashion industry swirls with changing seasons, awaiting new collections and the endless see now, buy now debate, Quin quietly put herself on the map by creating a luxury brand that is entirely seasonless, colorless and effortless, answering the prayers of that fickle working woman market. Based and manufactured in LA, Quin uses only the finest textiles and fabrics to create her monochromatic collections, and although this year marked her first foray into a different color palate, infusing gentle white, beige and navy into her repertoire, black will always remain her signature staple.
The most exciting part of discovering a young designer early in their career is being able to witness their evolution and growing design concept, and early fans of Chinese designer Xuzhi Chen have not been disappointed. In the short period of time since Chen showed his graduation collection from the prestigious Central Saint Martins College of Arts & Design in London in 2015, he has worked with JW Anderson and produced two subsequent collections. While his graduation presentation showed off the designer’s masterful fabric manipulation, heavy on frayed yarn and watercolor fabrics, his short lived journey to his Spring/Summer ’17 collection shows immense growth and understanding of a modern, sophisticated woman in search of unique, one of a kind fashion choices. The fashion industry has also taken note of the fledgling brand, nominating Chen for the 2015 H&M Design Awards, the 2016 LVMH Prize as well as the
Woolmark Prize the same year.
Written by LIZ KRASMKY
Visual Editor IVAN GUERRERO LOPEZ