Oh to be a backpacker… To kick up your skirt, throw caution to the wind and live on the road. Only a true free spirit knows what this really requires—a commitment to live in the moment, a quick dry towel, and also a good pair of shoes. If such wanderlust is calling you (and even if it’s not) let Laura Margna, a recent grad of the Institute of Fashion Design at the Academy of Art Design Basel be your guru.
We first discovered the young designer at the academy’s graduation show where Margna presented her senior thesis collection, which she aptly named “¡Ahorita!” – the Spanish word for right now. Margna cited her own backpacking ventures through Mexico as her principle design influence. “I created a wardrobe consisting of seven foldable outfits which can be put into a single backpack.” Margna’s girl is transient, adventurous and also critical, “a whole wardrobe finding a place in a single backpack is a statement about our consumer society,” Margna told us. So what does the dream nomad wardrobe pack contain? Among Margna’s are thin, slim fitting leggings and sweaters, breezy shorts, a surprisingly sexy and practical waterproof halter-top and a fantastic pair of convertible shoes.
Each of Margna’s seven looks is named after a different region in Mexico. “Tulum” is a simple pair of boxy, draw-string shorts worn underneath a crisp kind of collared peplum top which fastens at the back like a real backpack. This detail not only defines the waist, it practically keeps the baggy layers contained and gives you somewhere to rest your hands as you climb a South American mountain. And, since it can be chilly on the top, a tightly knit and elongated sweater vest, which ties up at the sides is layered over the top and shorts. The pieces are athletic but not overtly so, and while Margna does incorporate indigenous Mexican textile designs, they don’t read as cheesy or appropriative. Margna’s textiles are quite understated and abstract. “I never intended to present a typical ethnic collection, but to integrate the lively spirit of Mexican culture, a certain kind of freedom.” Her convertible hiking boots exemplify her approach. Thick soled, with laces that wrap up like an espadrille, the shoes are a kind of moccasin-Doc Marten hybrid. They have built in knee socks woven with a subtle indigenous Mexican pattern. Her boots, billowy skirts and mesh striped trousers somehow make sense for those of us looking to leap off of chicken buses and U-Bahns comfortably and stylishly.