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Susana Bettencourt, the master knitwear designer
Susana Bettencourt, the master knitwear designer

She took her first steps at Portugal Fashion’s Bloom, where she made her début in 2011. Since then, Susana Bettencourt has made her mark on the national and international fashion scene. She is well-known for her skill in working with knitwear, but it is in the digital arena that the entire creative process begins. Let’s take a look at the career of this young designer, whose designs have been worn by Lady Gaga.

London, Paris, Copenhagen, Vienna and, most recently, Rome, are part of the international presentation itinerary that the designer, from São Miguel Island, has been on with Portugal Fashion. Unequivocal proof of the interest Susana Bettencourt has awakened in an industry that is constantly being renewed and reinvented. The secret to success may very well reside precisely there. In fact, the designer always manages to surprise with her proposals. In her most recent collection, with an eye to autumn-winter of this year, her coordinates are everything but grey. It was even called the "rainbow collection”, as you can see from the coverage of this fashion show in the March Portugal Fashion, reported by Elle Italia, in this article from Harper’s Bazaar Argentina, and in this excerpt (at 00:16:05s) from a flash interview with the journalist from Condé Nast Traveller.

While she was still young, she moved to London with a suitcase full of dreams. While there, she trained and specialised in Digital Fashion at the London College of Fashion. A time when she built and consolidated her brand identity, assuring her productive professional growth. A time that allowed her to knit herself a place in the sun, in colourful wool, in national design. In fact, Susana Bettencourt lived for almost a decade in fast-paced London, on the banks of the creative Thames, in the increasing ebullience of a city that welcomes and gives a stage to new artistic talents.

An extremely favourable scenario that Susana was able to grab on to and take advantage of. Hardworking and a born perfectionist, she soon attracted the attention of stars in the world of pop, as was the case of the emblematic Lady Gaga, who ordered several exclusive items from her to wear on her music tour. This was in 2011, the year she first went on the Bloom catwalk at Portugal Fashion, in the October event. Here is an interview given at the time to the TAP onboard magazine, UP Magazine. In this conversation, the young designer admitted that her perseverance and spirit of sacrifice earned her a fashion show at the Victoria and Albert Museum: "I had to convince the people in charge that we deserved an opportunity to show our work”, she said. Her début at Portugal Fashion was also memorable: "It was unforgettable, because I’d never been able to get all my family and friends to one of my fashion shows. Above all, it was important to show my work to my country and the feedback has always been very positive. Sometimes, I’m touched when I read some e-mails I get from young Portuguese designers who are taking their first steps in the fashion world and ask me for advice. It’s very flattering.”

The world, a window of opportunities

A handful of years later, now back in Portugal, it is from the north of the country that her business was built, because from the dream came her own label, which she exports to several markets. At her studio in Vila Nova de Famalicão, you are sure to find Susana Bettencourt in front of her computer "playing with the mathematics of the pixels”. In fact, it is from these tiny bionic units that absolutely symmetrical knitwear with intricate patterns then emerge. This requires very strict discipline, left over from the times she went to the Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, where she got her degree in Fashion Design. The same school that historic students like John Galliano, Stella McCartney and Alexander McQueen also went to.

With 100% Portuguese production, the young designer’s garments have been regularly present at a variety of international events, whether in showroom or fashion show format. In February 2016, she presented a fashion performance at the London Fashion Week for the very first time (although she had been at the event before, but with different types of participation). Still in Europe, her collections have also travelled to Paris, Copenhagen and Vienna. Her transatlantic forays include New York, Vancouver and even Malaysia. The beginning of July marked her début at Altaroma, presenting her proposals for the next autumn-winter on the catwalk. Bold steps, but sure ones, that show Susana Bettencourt’s underlying entrepreneurial spirit. That’s why there are sure to be new stops on the world map the Azorean designer plans to paint.