If Portugal Fashion is not on your calendar yet, perhaps it should be. The four day event showcases the work of Portuguese designers, both established and emerging, in some of the most beautiful and historical buildings in Lisbon and Porto. The 34th edition, which took place last week, presented around 40 AW14 collections at a neo-Arab chateau, a converted convent and a former customs house.
What makes Portugal Fashion even more interesting is the sheer variety of shows on offer. The event includes womenswear, menswear, childrenswear, shoes and accessories, and there is something to suit all sensibilities, from cool to conceptual to commercial. On the main stage, we saw polished elegance from Diogo Miranda, who was inspired by the “delicate and feminine silhouette of the ‘50s.” Miranda, who designs for “women with a strong personality, stately in their posture and the way they walk,” stunned us with both structured and soft shapes in shades of scarlet, rose pink and bronze. Meanwhile, in the Bloom Space, menswear designer Cláudia Garrido showed knitted ‘onesies’, capes and long dresses in alpaca, cashmere and mohair, taking inspiration from “creepy images of precious children and their hidden mothers.”
One of the key components of Portugal Fashion, Bloom is a platform for new talent which launched in 2010. João Melo Costa is among the 30 young designers and brands that have benefited from the programme. We meet at the new Portugal Fashion/Bloom pop up store in Porto’s Península Boutique Centre, where earlier that morning he has sold two of his SS14 pieces – not bad in a city lacking any retail outlets for emerging designers. The difference between Bloom and the young designers competition at Lisboa Fashion Week, explains Costa, is that it is not just a one off opportunity. As long as standards are kept high, designers are funded for consecutive seasons, allowing them to develop their collections and build their profiles. This is Costa’s fourth time at Bloom. Thanks to Portugal Fashion, the 23-year-old has also shown in Madrid and twice in London, where he was selected as one of only four international designers to present their work to HRH Prince Charles.
Participation in catwalk shows and showrooms abroad, including Paris, Vienna and Copenhagen, is part of a broader strategy by Portugal Fashion to promote its designers internationally. “The foreign market is of crucial importance to the future of the Portuguese economy,” says Manuel Lopes Teixeira, from the event’s management team. “The international aspect of Portugal Fashion will continue to be one of the main lines of action of the project.” With this in mind, around 100 foreign journalists and buyers were brought to the event this season, and the ‘Brand Up’ showroom created where they could view 12 of the collections up close.
You might not think of Portugal as a major player in the international fashion arena, but the country has a long history of textile and clothing manufacture and is currently experiencing a very healthy growth in exports, both to other European nations and further afield. With large scale events like Portugal Fashion to promote them, the future certainly looks bright for designers from this Iberian land.
For more information, visit the Portugal Fashion website.
Words / Huma Humayun