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marques'almeida's chelsea hotel

Marta Marques and Paolo Almeida are just so cool. They read great books, watch great films and design clothes for free-spirited, romantic, grungy girls. Their autumn/winter 14 collection was inspired by Patti Smith's Just Kids, her photographer boyfriend Robert Mapplethorpe, folk-rock and blues singer Janis Joplin and the infamous heyday of Hotel Chelsea.

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"Guitar bums and stoned-out beauties in Victorian dresses. Junkie poets, playwrights, broke-down filmmakers, and French actors. Everybody passing through here is somebody, if not in the outside world." That was Patti Smith's description in her book Just Kids, of New York's Hotel Chelsea, where she lived with her boyfriend Robert Mapplethorpe in the 70s and again on her own in the 90s. The struggling artists, free minds, poets and musicians that passed through it's doors are the inspiration for Marques'Almeida this season. Their trademark raw, frayed denim was mixed in with lush fur, crushed velvet and glamourous satin slip dresses. Trousers were hipsters and tops were off the shoulder. These are the world's coolest new Chelsea girls...

Can you tell us a bit about the references – Patti Smith, Robert Mapplethorpe…
Marta: It didn’t start like that, it started like a random colour palette, we had loads of different colour swatches and were just kind of fascinated by that, sort of Tom Ford and Galliano references from the early 90s and we had that kind of willingness to break loose a little bit. So it started with that, but then I was reading Just Kids by Patti Smith at the time and was really obsessed with that whole Chelsea Hotel vibe - we both are – and we went to New York and stared at the Chelsea Hotel in construction work as it is now, and I started listening to a lot of Janis Joplin in the studio for some reason.

What’s your favourite song?
Marta: The finale one [Cry Baby], I have to say, and Mercedes Benz as well.

That was such an amazing finale song!
Marta: I think we listened to that like ten times in the studio, smashing things up!

I remember seeing a lot of 90s pictures of Kate Moss on the walls of your studio a year or so ago, this collection still really reminded me of her…
Marta: Yeah, I think that’s a nice thing in the references. We’ve always been about the 90s and the 00s, it’s something we knew as teenagers and to go away from that was a bit scary but I think that what brought it together in the end is that we’re always going to see that through our eyes, and it was more kind of that spirit of – I keep saying that phrase – ‘loose woman,’ but it doesn’t sound right!
Paolo: It’s that middle class misfit.
Marta: Yeah, that freer woman – it’s not necessarily a period thing – we probably see it through the 90s/00s reference because that’s what comes instinctively for us. 
Paolo: It was supposed to be all about this lounge, sort of boudoir vibe and it ends up being kind of like, almost a rave.
Marta: And there is a picture of Kate Moss next to a picture of Janis Joplin on the board and they’re weirdly similar…

How did Inside Llewyn Davis come into it?
Marta: It’s so amazing, it’s sad but I was really expecting it to be so amazing. Paolo kept mentioning the cat.
Paolo: The poor cat!
Marta: We were really touched and it was kind of really surprising. Again it was that vibe of struggling and a free mind that really translated for us and we needed a challenge.

Do you have a favourite piece from the collection?
Marta: The jacket, the cropped denim jacket and the red fur comes out at the front and the back. That was the first piece designed and I still quite like it.

marquesalmeida.com