Dear Shaded Viewers and Diane,
If you find yourself in London this weekend, there’s still time to pop by Somerset House for a precious selection of Malick Sidibé portraits – all shot in Bamako, Mali, in the wake of the country’s independence in 1960. A florid nightlife scene had blossomed on the bank of Niger, and it carried on the photographer’s studio, where the capital’s dandies dressed up and posed with no affectation for class or cause. Marta Marques and Paulo Almeida have developed their brand over the past few years with similar ideals at its core – freedom, playtime and joy – and Sidibé’s work is a timely cornerstone of their latest season. Not in the way of prints on tees or anything as simplistic, though. It’s a matter of silhouette, motifs and textures: shoulder pads (yes!), and double-breasted blazers in Beetlejuic-y stripes, exceedingly oversized floor-length capes and coats whose cuffs reach well past the fingertips of their fresh-faced M’A girls. Larger-than-life garments for larger-than-life personalities. Inky black and white polka dot jacquards give way to watercolours on a creamy, sweeping shirt-dress with generous collar and pierced sleeves, whereas a thinly pleated sheer fabric is used for a sculptural top and a sheath dress, the latter styled with a gold-leafed, shearling lined leather jacket on top. Then come the marbles: optical twirls on statement outerwear, with signature frayed trims, made for dancing by the river, in the moonlight. These are worn with matching babouches, or vivid disco platforms – the accessories, indeed, are state of the art. A handbag comes with a tortoiseshell chain plastic handle: something that’s been so wrong, for so long, of course it feels so right, right now.