From Bloom to the main catwalk
From Bloom to the main catwalk
Miguel Flor, Estelita Mendonça and Susana Bettencourt are three names inextricably linked with the Bloom project. With regard to the Portugal Fashion platform dedicated to launching young designers, they are unanimous in believing that it is a driving force behind the construction of a consistent career. Find out why.

You could almost apply the old maxim of "blood, sweat and tears”, a phrase coined by statesman Winston Churchill. It is a fact that, with the exception of the first word for these three, the careers of the young designers supported by Portugal Fashion are built on a strong sense of commitment and long hours of dedication to the project. 

In the words of former Bloomer Estelita Mendonça, who even after moving up to the main catwalk in 2014, confessed on the "Faz Sentido” programme on SIC Mulher that "tranquillity and soundness” are conditions he has never really experienced, as he believes that all creative processes have their own idiosyncrasies.

Integrated view of the business

A framework that, just from reading these first lines, would seem to predict constant disquiet in the designer (a kind of restlessness typical to any artist), but which is really the backstage work of a team specialising in the widest variety of business areas, helping the young designers to build their brands, with all of the management aspects and business components inextricably linked to this.
Something that is built up over the years, as stated by Miguel Flor, Bloom coordinator, who, since the project began – almost six years ago – has been encouraging the scouting of emerging talents that, after they have been identified, "whether through the portfolios we receive, or in fashion school competitions and, of course, through our biannual Bloom Competition” blaze their trail towards building businesses with a structure that can win in the competitive fashion sector. Nevertheless, success can come in different forms and Miguel Flor believes the most important thing is to achieve the ambition of the Bloom space: to contribute to excellent careers because, as he made a point of mentioning, the platform wasn’t designed "solely and exclusively for launching young designers under their own names”. There is still room for alternative routes, examples of which are some ex-participants who are "taken on by studios or large international companies”.

From Bloom to the main catwalk

Taking into account that moving to the main catwalk corresponds to added responsibilities inherent to putting on a fashion show, designer Susana Bettencourt, who works on her collections in her studio in London, is quick to agree with Estelita Mendonça, with regard to backstage work. Curiously, this pair has followed a similar path at Portugal Fashion. At the last event, they both had a joint fashion show at the Beato Convent in Lisbon. 

"Above all, we need to know who our clients are, who we want to sell to and what message we want to send”, something that only comes after the inevitable "trial and error” duo. Small but sure steps have allowed Susana to look to the future with confidence. With ambition and talent of global potential, she is focusing on internationalisation, an example of which is her recent incursion into the London Fashion Week showroom in February 2016.

A number of small great victories coming in the most varied of forms. For Estelita, the two distinctions he earned recently – an honourable mention at the International Fashion Showcase (IFS) and the award for the Best Young Designer in the Fashion category, in the Prémios Novos awarded by the Calouste Gulbenkian foundation – are an extra incentive on the path to consolidation of his brand identity, both in the national panorama and on the international scene.

Ex-Bloomers making their way in the competitive world of fashion are also part of the history of Portugal Fashion. To see the full conversation, click here.