no boundaries | modalisboa

Patrick de Pádua

The 48th edition of one of Europe’s most exciting upcoming fashion weeks, ModaLisboa, saw the fashion pack descend on the Portuguese capital earlier this month. The event took the theme of BOUNDLESS, in response to “a world that every day sees more walls being built, divisions leading to borders, when the individual act seems to prevail over the global and collective creativity”, and to highlight that fashion is “without limits, restrictions or reservations”.

Of course, creativity without boundaries would not be possible without initiatives that champion young, emerging designers. ModaLisboa’s contribution is Sangue Novo (Young Blood), a competition for Portuguese graduates. Eight designers showed at the AW17 edition. They explored themes as diverse as selfies and peep shows, but the winner of the coveted ModaLisboa Award, João Oliveira, took inspiration from Google Street View and artist, filmmaker and essayist Jon Rafman. As well as 5,000 Euros, Oliveira will receive a place on a summer course at the prestigious Domus Academy in Milan. Meanwhile, Rita Afonso walked away with the FASHIONCLASH Award, securing her a show at Maastricht’s fashion festival. 

The LAB initiative supports slightly more established, but still young, designers, such as Patrick de Pádua, a Sangue Nuovo winner in 2015. This season, de Pádua was on the war path with his collection Weapon of Life, full of military elements, mixed with his signature streetwear. The colour palette therefore included khaki and rich bordeaux, as well as camoflague prints. Textures provided additional interest, with the use of burel (a type of hand made Portuguese wool), fur and neoprene.

Dino Alves

Dino Alves, who is always something of an agent provocateur, responded to the theme of BOUNDLESS with a collection entitled Instructions. The show was preceded by a performance, which was meant as a “revolutionary manifest about the Portuguese fashion industry. It questions, criticises and explains how and why we do our work and how the public relates with it.” The collection itself aimed to offer solutions, e.g. by keeping production to a minimum and using fabric scarps for zero waste.

Nuno Gama

Alves wasn’t the only one to incorporate performance into his show. Nuno Gama is renowned for his theatrical catwalks. He also draws much of his inspiration from Portuguese history and heritage. This season, his show began with a reenactment of a Portuguese legend. At Awaytomars – another label under the LAB initiative – the audience saw garments being painted before the models took to the runway.


Awaytomars has always been an example of BOUNDLESS fashion. Calling itself “the world’s first 100% user-created fashion brand”, the label is based on the sharing economy. Since 2015, it has invited members of the public to submit sketches and ideas online, before working with technical experts to create prototypes. It then uses crowdfunding to bring the collection to life and to its online community. The “co-creators” range from a Norfolk-based GCSE student, to a Ukranian artist, to professionals from Burberry, COS and Acne Studios.

A new addition to ModaLisboa this season, the Global Fashion Exchange (GFX) – a sustainability project originally launched in Denmark in 2013 – aims to address the issue that “as a rule, we only use the same clothes seven times before we throw them out for a change.” GFX hosted several events during the course of the fashion week, including a clothing swap, allowing both participants and the public to exchange their unloved items for a fresh fashion fix. To date, the swaps have prevented 19 tonnes of waste from going to land fill, and any clothing left over after the events is recycled, not just into textiles, but also for other products and housing materials.

We may live in times when more and more barriers are being built, but it’s encouraging to see the creative community taking a stand and battling some of those boundaries. Long live ModaLisboa!

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Words / Huma Humayun
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