October has particular significance for Portuguese designers, with SS15 collections being shown at ModaLisboa (which we reported on earlier this month), followed by PortugalFashion, which took place last week. Schön! returned to Lisbon and Porto to find out what’s new at the 35th edition of this unique event.
Unlike ModaLisboa, PortugalFashion takes place in both Lisbon and Porto, with most of the shows in the latter. Another notable aspect is the use of beautiful, historical buildings in both cities, but this season, the organisers went a step further by adding several more venues to the list. The aim was to “achieve the magnificence, glamour and sophistication of the large international fashion events,” explains João Rafael Koehler, President of the event’s organisers, ANJE, “as well as strengthening the link between the event and the cities where it is located. We have designer fashion, industry commercial lines, young designers of great talent and the best shoes in the world. All this in grandiose buildings in a cosmopolitan environment.”
Locations aside, PortugalFashion is really about promoting local talent to both national and global audiences. The event comprises of a main stage featuring the more established designers and Bloom, a catwalk showcasing the emerging ones, including seven designers making their Bloom debut and graduate shows from four fashion colleges. The Brand Up showroom allows buyers to see some of the new collections up close and the Bloom pop-up store provides an opportunity for younger designers to sell pieces from their current collections to the public. From new names to well-known commercial brands, PortugalFashion has something for everyone. We catch up with three designers at very different stages of their careers to discover the inspiration behind some of the most memorable collections this season.
Daniela Barros has benefitted from the Bloom programme since graduating in in 2008. Earlier this year, she won Best Young Designer at Premier Novos and progressed to the main stage at PortugalFashion. This season, she impressed us with her clean, almost clinical, collection. Rigid lines were juxtaposed with relaxed tailoring in head-to-toe black and white or deep blue and terracotta prints inspired by human muscular structure, and punctuated with oversized clutches and backpacks. Barros’ explanation of the collection is as simple as her garments: “I try to not analyse myself too much,” she says, “because I think it’s quite dangerous and a frightening thing to do…”
The next stop on our agenda was a backstage debrief with Diogo Miranda after a very well received show. Although only in his late twenties, Miranda – whom we spotted as one to watch in our report last season – is fast becoming a serious contender on the Portuguese fashion stage with the structured, minimalist aesthetic he calls his brand’s ‘DNA’. He is well aware that red carpet showstoppers are considered to be his signature pieces, but there is more to Miranda than party dresses. This season, the stiff fabrics that add drama to his gowns were used to great effect in kick flared, sharply tailored trousers and jackets, while softer, more fluid shapes in sandy tones were inspired by safari clothing and tents. He’s deconstructed a masculine look to produce something unreservedly feminine, sophisticated and reminiscent of ‘70s style at its most chic. It’s no surprise that he cites Tom Ford as one of his inspirations. Although he “designs for the same woman every season,” Miranda explains that “she is growing season after season. That’s the most exciting thing.”
Luís Buchinho is one of the most established names in Portuguese fashion. He won Best Designer at the Fashion Awards Portugal in 2012 and has shown in Paris, New York and Sao Paulo. This season, Buchinho was the only designer to have his own venue – the Conservatório de Música. We caught up with him in the light filled studio behind his shop on Porto’s Rua José Falcão to hear about the inspiration behind his latest collection, Happy Hour.
“It’s something you can relate to cocktail time,” explains Buchinho, “but it’s really the most idyllic summer ever: very fresh, spirited, very light. It’s everything you have in summertime, like ice cream on the beach, sand and flirting.” The palette therefore includes ice cream shades like mint green, sky blue and lilac, but is punctuated with “exotic cocktail colours, like the strawberries, cherries or olives that you put on top.” It’s a feminine aesthetic, with featherweight silk knits, silk taffeta, organza and chiffon, but graphic at the same time due to Buchinho’s use of texture. “This collection is very geometric,” he says. “We focused a lot on lace, which was constructed with a sporty theme. It’s not floral lace. It’s very technical – and we use it in layers. I always work with layers. I love it.”
The three designers are all very different, not only in age or experience, but also in style. One thing they share in common though is the fact that they have chosen to continuously align themselves with PortugalFashion. Thanks to the event’s participation with the fashion industry abroad, Barros has already shown her collections in Madrid in 2012, Vienna in 2013 and at London Fashion Week in 2014. Miranda, who is from Porto, based in Porto and has shown his collections there since he started his career in 2007, is stocked in fashion capitals such as London and Paris. Buchinho has been participating in PortugalFashion since the first edition in July 1995. Despite his illustrious career in his home country, he only started selling internationally a year and a half ago, but is already stocked in twelve countries, including China and the United States, and expects to add Italy to the list with his latest collection.
“We are very different from each other,” says Buchinho of Portuguese designers. “There are a lot of shows. I mean not everyone is going to get it. The main idea of PortugalFashion is to make Portuguese designers available around the world.”