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A Portugal Fashion of Resistance and Hope
A Portugal Fashion of Resistance and Hope

Twenty-four fashion shows/presentations, 17 clothing designers and brands, six footwear brands and seven projects by young designers. These were the numbers of the 47th Portugal Fashion. Numbers of resistance and hope. Resistance to the health, economic and social effects of the covid-19 pandemic. Hope because, despite the difficulties and restrictions imposed by the pandemic crisis, these three days of fashion shows were the proof of the creative and commercial vitality of Portuguese fashion. All of this in an edition that marked the 25th anniversary of Portugal Fashion, a longevity that is also a mixture of tenacity and dream.

Portugal Fashion, adapted to the demands of the health crisis, happened between 15 and 17 October. Mostly daytime schedule, audience limitation, outdoor fashion shows, online broadcasts, multimedia interventions and contingency plan were the main measures to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus during this 47th edition. 
"The pandemic led to a profound reinvention of the event, translated into new models of organising the fashion shows, new ways of communicating the creations and new ways of interacting with the public”, explains the Portugal Fashion director, Mónica Neto.
"This edition takes place in a very difficult context for the Portuguese economy, which reinforces our responsibilities as a trend-setting event in training and promoting the fashion sector. Portugal Fashion has an increased duty to support and give hope to creators and brands, which are, as in other sectors of activity, being heavily penalised by the socio-economic impact of the pandemic. Today, perhaps as never in these 25 years of Portugal Fashion, it is our obligation to protect national talent. And I don't think there is a better way than this to mark our 25th anniversary”, considers Mónica Neto.
The motto of this 47th Portugal Fashion was, precisely, "25 Years Protecting Talent”. And talent is not lacking in the spring/summer 2021 fashion show programme. After its last edition, in March, having been interrupted due to the worsening of the epidemic situation, Portugal Fashion returned with a programme with many renowned creators (Alexandra Moura, Alves/Gonçalves, David Catalán, Hugo Costa, Júlio Torcato, Luís Onofre , Maria Gambina, Miguel Vieira, Sophia Kah, Katty Xiomara...), accredited brands (Concreto, Sanjo, Fly London...), young Bloom designers and two creative duos, Ernest W. Baker (debuting at the event) and Marques'Almeida. 
Sophia Kah opens Portugal Fashion

The nerve centre of the event was once again Alfândega do Porto, taking advantage not only of the size and versatility of its rooms but also of the pleasantness of its outdoor spaces (such as the area next to the pier and even the car park). The programme of this 47th edition also included off location fashion shows, as with the opening of the event, in which the Neya Porto Hotel's outdoor patio - with the landscaped cloister of the old Monchique Convent - served as the setting for the presentation of the latest Sophia Kah brand collection.
After the elegance and sensuality of Sophia Kah's proposals - a brand that was born in London in 2011, by the hands of the Portuguese designer Ana Teixeira de Sousa - the event continued at Alfândega do Porto with the first Bloom show and the presentation of David Catalán’s proposals. In September, the Riojano fashion designer based in Porto took part in Milan Fashion Week, with the support of Portugal Fashion, and brought to Alfândega a collection inspired by the imagery of African safaris, but with references to the universe of classic men's fashion. 

The utilitarian details appeared in different types of pieces: classic shirts, trousers, waistcoats and outerwear. A combination that favours a mixture of styles, with a mix of classic pieces with more casual proposals. Warm colours, graphic notes inspired by botanicals, macro approaches in different techniques and multicoloured prints abound, especially in denim pieces. A new language is thus introduced into the brand's jeanswear universe. In the materials, the highlight was the cottons with a touch of paper and the light technical fabrics, which gave comfort to the pieces. Another aspect to highlight was tie-dye dyeing. The silhouette is comfortable and relaxed, conveying an urban and contemporary look.

In the middle of the afternoon, a long-awaited presentation by Katty Xiomara took place. The designer prepared for this edition a video presentation of the collection entitled "Alma”, with which she wanted to convey the message that "personal connections matter and creative connections enrich us”. The shapes in Katty Xiomara's new proposals are fluctuating and simple and, like previous collections, the designer used exclusively national raw materials with sustainable objectives. Moreover, eco-design concepts are again applied to this collection. The pieces take on neutral tones, with black and white being the major points of contrast and balance. The greens and mauve-toned grays recreate an aura. Finally, a score of red and pink lipstick introduces energy and femininity.  


Debut of Ernest W. Baker

After the fashion show by Estelita Mendonça, a designer who has already accustomed Portugal Fashion's audience to bold and challenging proposals, Ernest W. Baker – a menswear brand under which the talent of young designers Reid Baker and Inês Amorim was revealed - debuted at the event. The brand is a tribute to Reid's namesake grandfather, who was one of Detroit's first publicists, and combines the pragmatism of the American way of life with European elegance and classicism, in a clash of cultures that sublimates the best of both worlds. 
Last July, Ernest W. Baker integrated the official Paris Fashion Week programme and is on sale in Italy, Canada, Japan, Hong Kong, China and South Korea and on online platforms such as Farfetch. It should be noted that Reidi and Inês worked together for designers Haider Ackermann, Yang Li and Wooyoungmi and, in 2018, the duo was among the 20 semifinalists of the LVMH awards (French group that includes Louis Vuitton, Celine and Christian Dior). 
The collection that the brand presented in video format at Portugal Fashion was inspired by the family history of the two creators, an idea that was born during the social confinement due to the pandemic, in particular after watching Reid's grandfather, father and childhood films. "The parallels between the very old ones, recurring inspiration in our work, and the very young ones that we saw in them, became the starting point of our spring-summer 2021 collection”, they explain. 
Therefore, the suits and raincoats allude to childhood and take on a markedly vintage look, referring to the imagery of the last century’s 60s/70s. The tones are soft, and the shapes are sometimes oversized. 


The second day of the 47th Portugal Fashion started with Susana Bettencourt, in an innovative format of Editorial in Portugal Fashion, which lasted all day, starting at Neya Porto Hotel but in the old church of the convent. This renovated space was the scenario of the presentation of the creator, which runed throughout the day with video transmission. The idea was to present the collection simulating a fashion editorial, with the mannequins in pose being continuously photographed. This innovative format allowed to show the behind-the-scenes dynamics to the public, which as a rule does not have public visibility, and, at the same time, gave the designer all the promotional material needed to launch the collection commercially. 
Inês Torcato followed, a former bloomer who has been gaining recognition in the fashion circuit, being appointed as one of the most talented designers of her generation. It is in her genes, perhaps, because she is the daughter of Júlio Torcato. Or she was very attentive to Maria Gambina’s classes, who was her teacher at ESAD Matosinhos. Moreover, it is precisely Maria Gambina who succeeded Inês Torcato on the catwalk of the 47th Portugal Fashion, proving that the event does indeed cross several generations of designers.
For the warm season of 2021, Maria Gambina proposed "a female collection in space age silhouette, in an African-American environment from the 60s”. "Details that bring us back to childhood abound, such as embroidery on honeycombs, gathered by elastic bands, lace and layered jabô leaves”. These elements "sprinkle the pieces in a delicate attitude in contrast to the sport graphics of the collection". The materials are sustainable and contemporary, and the application of technical finishes in antibacterial protection membranes, which are presented in thin transparent films or in fluorescent yellow, should be highlighted. White predominates in the collection, but with notes of royal blue and fluorescent yellow.  
The program continued with Pé de Chumbo, which, in its new collection, focus on the reuse of pieces, giving them new shapes and textures with an aesthetic but also sustainable purpose. Next was the first of two presentations of footwear and accessories brands, in this case with the collections of Belcinto, MLV Portuguese Shoes and Fly London.
The second day of Portugal Fashion ended with a video presentation by Miguel Vieira, one of the most accredited and international Portuguese fashion designers. In Sala dos Despachantes, the performance with mannequins accompanied the launch of three cocktails in partnership with Vogue Café Porto, with colours and aromas inspired by the creator's collection. A video was also presented with the participation of Miguel Vieira at Milan Fashion Week, last September, with the support of Portugal Fashion.
Miguel Vieira presents the collection "Introspection”, which, according to the creator, "seeks inspiration in men focused on what they truly believe and are free to wear what reflects and simultaneously shapes their personality. Men who, when they consume fashion, prefer consistency and quality”. The chromatic palette integrates beige, biscuit brown, orchid pink, and Capri blue, while printed materials, silks, cold wool (100% and super 110), mercerised cotton and metallised fabrics are prominent. The prints developed in the studio and the personalised lining stand out in the details. There is a contrast between a slim and geometric silhouette and a classic silhouette, while the lines are pure and stylised and the tailoring is structured.


M'A Manifesto for sustainability


On Saturday, 17,  in an off-location fashion show and early in the morning, the M'A girls showcased the new collection of the duo based in London, Marta Marques and Paulo Almeida, who in September returned to London Fashion Week with the support of Portugal Fashion. Marques'Almeida's new streetwear collection is a manifesto for sustainability, without losing the pair's usual punk and grungy references combined with elements, patterns and shapes reminiscent of Portuguese culture.    
 "Who are you?", "What is important to you?" these are the issues raised in this manifesto for social and environmental responsibility. The M’A Manifesto intended to "take seriously the vulnerability and fragility of each one” and then "support, nurture, honour and empower” an entire community. Above all, the duo is seen as an "engine of change”, in order to "make a conscious difference in the fashion universe”. 
Although Alexandra Moura's participation in this edition was done through a video installation permanently open to the public at the entrance to Alfândega, it was on Saturday, at 12:30 pm, that the creator's presence at the 47th Portugal Fashion was symbolically noted. In the cube-shaped installation, a video was projected with the last participation of the creator at Milan Fashion Week, in September, where she presented the "Substrato” collection, which resulted from the revisiting of drawings, prints, fabrics, patterns and concepts previously explored by Alexandra Moura.

"We thus extracted what characterises the brand, what the brand is”, said the creator. In the collection we witness the "deconstruction of the classics”, the delicate romantic evolves becoming more underground, the fabrics are manipulated and the volumes, the loose ties and the straps stand out as the brand's identity elements. From all this, a classic and conceptual pattern is born, in which urban and sporting aesthetics help to create constant opposites, bringing informality to the collection.
The event continued with Júlio Torcato who, with a performance by Francisco Barros, text by João Mendes and sound design by André NO, presented "a manifesto in the form of political-social satire where a character speaks about the manipulation and the lack of analysis we do to what we hear”. Next was the always bold menswear show by Hugo Costa, a designer who made himself known at Bloom and is now a regular presence at Paris Fashion Week. Then, Concreto brand, a reference in the Portuguese textile and clothing industry for the quality of its creations in knitting for women, revealed its proposals for next year's warm season. 
Right after the Bloom Competition powered by Sonae Fashion, Luís Onofre presented the "Freedom” collection, inspired by the "wings of a colourful bird crossing the sky” or the "lush intensity of tropical forests” - "perfect representations of a harmony that only we find in nature”. "In an appeal to the latitude of open spaces, (...) shapes, materials and colours emerge that transform each shoe into a tribute to Mother Nature", explained the designer regarding the new collection of his namesake brand.
Yellow, blue, strawberry, beige or khaki generate chromatic effects always amplified by gold. Feathers, foliage and ethnic plaits are recreated to adorn the collection, and sandals and flip-flops follow each other in different heights and formats. Bindings, rectangular toecaps, lacy and embroidered effects are of great importance in a collection where suede, fur and satins are the basic materials. Raffia takes on an unexpected role in soles and covers, while Swarovski crystals in multiple combinations enhance the brand's usual elegance. In the sportier models, the components were worked to reinforce the ultralight effect, making the brand's trainers even more comfortable.
Footwear and accessories were again highlighted in the last of the two collective presentations dedicated to the sector. ESC, Rufel and Sanjo were this time, the brands that must demonstrate that Portugal has the best shoes and leather goods in the world. 

The 47th Portugal Fashion ended in great style with the fashion show by the Alves/Gonçalves duo, who, in their new collection, fused ethnic elements with new technologies aiming at sustainability. For spring-summer 2021, Manéis created "a dizzying, optimistic and experimental environment for the near future”. It is an eclectic and urban collection that revisits clothing whose memories are added to new aesthetics. The duo's streetwear featured wide shapes and long unconventional silhouettes, in which women are associated with men. In short, "a garment of various interpretations for a new post-covid era, which foresees a positive and energetic future".
Strategic partnerships


Portugal Fashion is a project under the responsibility of ANJE - National Association of Young Entrepreneurs, which has the support of its strategic partners and is co-financed by Portugal 2020, within the scope of Compete 2020 - Operational Programme for Competitiveness and Internationalisation, with funds from European Union, through the European Regional Development Fund.
Very recently, Portugal Fashion and the Municipality of Porto signed a protocol that defines the institutional support of the municipality for the event. This support gives Portugal Fashion increased resources to reinforce its position in the national and international fashion ecosystem and, thus, strengthen the dynamics of the city/region as a hub of innovation, entrepreneurship, manufacturing, creativity and culture. It is intended, with this strategic cooperation, to boost the commercial component of Portugal Fashion, within the framework of a city/region historically linked to national manufacturing industries, namely in the textile, clothing and footwear sectors.
The same logic of promoting the development and internationalisation of Portuguese industry presides over Portugal Fashion's strategic partnerships with business associations in the fashion sector, such as ATP - Textile and Clothing Association of Portugal, APICCAPS - Portuguese Association of Footwear Manufacturers, Components, Leather Goods and their Substitutes and AORP - Portuguese Jewellery and Watchmaking Association. These partnerships allow Portugal Fashion to encompass all sectors of the fashion sector and create synergies between them, in order to reinforce the international dimension, the differentiation capacity and the competitive potential of Portuguese companies and products.