Barcelona-born Archie M. Alled-Martínez has a clear vision in menswear; a rarity in today’s almost uniformed aesthetic. If a fashion designer is not on the side of streetwear as luxury, it’s the challenge of always making tailoring modern and relevant that is pushed. For Archie, it’s a whole new concept all together.
Archie is based in Paris while working for Givenchy. It's an opportunity granted to him by French fashion conglomerate LVMH for being awarded the LVMH Prize for Graduates in 2018, and is slated to end in June of this year. Archie speaks to me during a break while apologetically eating a sandwich. He's eloquent and speaks with an assuredness of someone's who knows what he's doing with his brand, especially in today's fashion landscape.
“The research behind the collection was trying to find out who I was. It wasn’t so much of me researching for something completely out of the blue that I liked; it was identifying throughout all fashion periods something that I could really identify myself with,” Archie explains.
The result of that was his fixation with the merging of aristocracy and nightlife in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. The juxtaposition of nobility with the perversity of something that could have been considered somewhat beneath aristocracy, amazed Archie. It then led to Jacques de Bascher, a Parisian dandy who drew the attention of two of fashion's legendary names: Karl Lagerfeld and Yves Saint Laurent.
“It’s more about him as a person. Who he is, is someone who created his own destiny,” he goes on to explain. “He was someone who was friends with a princess or a duchess, and could be hanging out with them during the day. And then all of a sudden, you’d find him amongst the night crowd where you’d definitely not expect that kind of companion to be. That was the intent; a perverse dandy.”
That idea that someone or something is not what it seems, echoes Alled-Martínez’s deliciously crafted tailoring. Just from pictures alone, one wouldn’t probably be able to tell that every single piece of the autumn/winter 2019 collection is knitted. Each piece is so well constructed that they resemble conventional wool suiting fabrics, or in the case of one look, unwashed denim. It all clicks when you take notice of the way that each garment drapes and seem to mould seamlessly to the body. There could be a better word to describe it, but to me, Alled-Martínez is undeniably sexy.
The craftsmanship of every piece is the whole point. It's esoteric at a glance but just like Jacques de Bascher's charm, there's an allure that makes one want to look closer and examine the nature of the design. Archie calls the collection "mundane", but only in the sense that as with every fashion graduate show by the top fashion schools in the world (Archie graduated from London's Central Saint Martins), there's the tendency to go avant-garde and over-the-top.
"I wanted that immediate reaction of: why am I looking at this? And then finding out that it’s probably the most technical and the most intricate collection of them all. That was really something that turned me on. You know what I mean? That sort of surprise moment or surprise-like grand finale; of finding out that what you're seeing is not exactly what you're seeing," Archie says.
Ironically, Archie tells me that he hates traditional knitwear. "I hate a cable, I hate a jumper; I hate all of that. So, the challenge really was to find who I was within the knitwear industry," he acknowledges.
The knitting technique took Archie one and a half years to perfect. He explains that it would have probably taken him a shorter time with a team behind him, but as it was part his MA collection, everything—from the creation of the fabric to the cutting of the garments—had to be done by him alone.
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Somewhere along our conversation, Archie mentioned the late Azzedine Alaïa. And it was then that it dawned on me that Archie is this generation's menswear incarnation of Alaïa. Not only in the dedication to revolutionising knitwear but also in the way that he's doing it in his own time and pace, and without a care about what the trends out there are.
No matter how one might find his clothes sexy, Archie reiterates that there’s no agenda in pushing for men to dress sexily. “It’s very self-indulgent, I could say that. The reason why I dress men like that is because I like them to be like that,” he expresses. Yet, I haven’t seen a white tuxedo draped so elegantly and sexy like the one from Alled-Martínez, in a long while.
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