The celebration of Portuguese fashion brought to Alfândega do Porto a deluxe line-up, several débuts and returns
The celebration of Portuguese fashion brought to Alfândega do Porto a deluxe line-up, several débuts and returns
Back at Alfândega do Porto, this 43rd Portugal Fashion event featured seven clothing labels, eight footwear and accessories brands, 18 individual designers and three creative duos, as well as seven young designers and five fashion schools. In all, 35 fashion shows and one presentation were made, divided between two fashion show venues – Alfândega do Porto and the facilities of the Cães de Pedra group (Lion of Porches and Decenio). 

"The 43rd Portugal Fashion presented a very complete and interesting fashion show programme. We had designer fashion, ready-to-wear lines, footwear collections and creations by young designers. In addition, the Brand Up showroom included exhibitors from the different sectors of the fashion industry, from clothing and footwear to jewellery and lifestyle”, pointed out Mónica Neto, spokesperson for Portugal Fashion. "It was a line-up that reflected the vitality of Portuguese fashion and of Portugal Fashion. The event once again demonstrated its capacity for renewal, as proven by the débuts of Marques’Almeida, Sophia Kah, Rita Sá and Cristina Ferreira, the return of Maria Gambina and the move of ex-Bloomers Nycole and Sara Maia to the main catwalk”, added Mónica Neto.

After the fashion show by Alexandra Moura powered by Portugal Fashion at ModaLisboa, under the scope of the recent cooperation agreement between the two events, the 43rd Portugal Fashion, spring/summer 2019, kicked off at Alfândega do Porto on 18 October. The first fashion shows were part of Bloom, a platform aimed at showcasing young designers and fashion schools. A special mention for the two finalists of the PFN New Designers Competition, Luís Sandão (ESAD) and João Sousa (EMP - Porto Fashion School), the winners of the last Bloom Competition, Mara Flora and Maria Meira, and also Rita Sá, a Bloom first timer.

These were followed in the evening by the only two off location fashion shows, by Lion of Porches and Decenio, both part of the Cães de Pedra group. The catwalk set up in the group's new facilities in Mindelo, Vila do Conde, was the stage for the proposals by British-inspired Lion of Porches and the relaxed, versatile and preppy ready-to-wear proposals from Decenio. This was also be an opportunity to get to know a model factory structure, where 150 people work (administration, styling, marketing, online, etc) and where the production chain, the showrooms, the logistics platform and the group's quality laboratory operate, in a covered area of approximately 30,000 m2. These fashion shows ensured Portugal Fashion is reaffirming its strategic and organisational ties to the Portuguese clothing industry.

In the evening, the programme continued with three designers who are making a name for themselves in Portuguese fashion thanks to their proven talent: Carla Pontes and Susana Bettencourt whose participation in Bloom has brought them to the event's main catwalk, and Teresa Martins who has created a very strong aesthetic identity through her TM Collection label. In her "Corpo” (body) collection, Carla Pontes presented extremely elastic, highly textured knits, with strong colours and plastic appliqués. Knits were also the material chosen by Susana Bettencourt, whose "Resilient Individuality” collection has new textures, volumes and silhouettes in strong jacquard fabrics with unique patterns. Unusual combinations of colours, textures and detail were presented from TM Collection.

The shoes by Cristina and the return of Maria Gambina

The second day of the 43rd Portugal Fashion kicked off with one of the big features of the calendar: the CF CRISTINA ladies' footwear and accessories label by well-known TV presenter Cristina Ferreira. The label, launched in 2015, was part of the Portugal Fashion line-up at 1 pm on Friday and was one of the high points of this event. CF CRISTINA footwear and accessories are on sale in over 60 shops and at dailycristina.com. According to the presenter, her products reflect her personality: "They have glamour, comfort, details and some eccentricity.  

A little later, Nycole and Sara Maia, two young designers who stood out at recent Bloom events, took the event's main catwalk for the first time. Inês Torcato and David Catalán followed a similar route. Thanks to the talent they showed at Bloom, the two designers began presenting their collections among the big names of Portuguese fashion, as was the case at this event. The rise of so many young designers to the main catwalk demonstrates that, through the Bloom project, Portugal Fashion is promoting generational renewal and, consequently, the aesthetic and commercial revitalisation of Portuguese fashion. 

Behind the emergence of many of these new talents is Maria Gambina, who, as a Fashion Design teacher, acted as a mentor and a reference for many young people graduating from Porto's fashion schools. And it is precisely Maria Gambina that made her eagerly awaited comeback to Portugal Fashion and Portuguese catwalks, which she had left behind in order to devote herself exclusively to teaching. 

The designer last took part in Portugal Fashion in 2004, but her name is indelibly imprinted on the history of the event. It is important to remember that Maria Gambina took part in the very first event in 1995 and, for almost ten years, she participated in national Portugal Fashion events but also in international ones (fashion weeks in Paris and São Paulo, Pasarela Gaudí – Barcelona and Circulo de Bellas Artes in Madrid). 

For her return to the catwalks, after a career break in 2013, Maria Gambina presented her "Construction” collection, which "draws a parallel between the modelling of volumes and the cut of the details and the evolution of the creative identity of the designer”. Of note is "the use of originally manual, traditional processes, like crochet and patchwork”, which shows the designer's concerns about environmental sustainability. And any materials left over from the collection were reused in new items. 

The details that stand out most in the new proposals from Maria Gambina are the "collars on shirts”, "the necks that become the scapulars of trench coats” and the "reversible, versatile clothes”, which "are underlined with graphic references to signs for building work in progress”. The predominant colours are black, white, red, royal blue, orange, yellow and beige. 

Four very eclectic fashion shows happened on Friday evening. From the avant-garde irreverence of ex-Bloomers Estelita Mendonça and Hugo Costa to the classic elegance of Carlos Gil and Micaela Oliveira. In his "Aquarella” collection, Carlos Gil proposed strong, sparkling colours on fluid maxi and mini dresses, with openings and voluminous sleeves with an elegant cut. Of note is the use of technically studied knots and bows that give a draped effect. The designer favours premium fabrics like silk, organza, crepe and sequins, with modern details. 

The evening of the 2nd day of fashion shows was marked by the début of the Sophia Kah label at the event, having presented its collection in London in September with the support of Portugal Fashion. And it is also in London that designer Ana Teixeira de Sousa designs the luxurious Sophia Kah evening gowns, which are gaining recognition on the international market and becoming the favourites of world celebrities. Beyoncé, Keira Knightley, Kerry Washington, Nelly Furtado, Florence Welch, Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Olivia Palermo are on the designer's customer list. The Sophia Kah label also has points of sale at places as prestigious as Harrods and Barneys NY, and there is significant demand for it in Middle Eastern countries and in Russia.

Coming from a family with a tradition in the textile sector, Ana Teixeira de Sousa grew up with the hustle and bustle of her parents' factory in Felgueiras, playing with fabrics and designing her first clothes. She went to London to study International Management, but her passion for fashion won out. In 2010, she set up the Sophia Kah label, which is wholly produced in Portugal. 

At Portugal Fashion, Ana Teixeira de Sousa presented a collection that uses regional embroidery techniques. The items were handmade, with lace finishes and fine Italian silk, which give a trompe l’oeil appearance and highlight the natural curves of the female body. Also of note are the combinations of silk, as well as the shorts with a lace finish, the blazers with lace lapels, the crop tops and skirts and the long, pleated dresses in fine fabrics and knits. The colours used include shades of mustard, lime green and burnt orange, in contrast with cuts highlighted in black lace and unpicked seams that outline the contours of the body. 

Also from Felgueiras, Diogo Miranda presented his collection the same evening, inspired by the work of one of the most influential photographers of the 20th century, Irving Penn. The highlights in the designer's new proposals, already revealed in Paris with the support of Portugal Fashion, are the "ethereal, feminine lines conveyed by carefully thought out, draped cuts”, as well as the "long, svelte silhouettes”, which "convey a contained sensuality”. As for the materials, "silk taffeta and brocades help shape 3D sleeves and create volume, midi lengths vs exposed legs, asymmetrical cuts and plunging necklines in crepe and linen”. "Nude colours abound, like pink, yellow and sky blue, contrasting with purple, black and wine colour”. 

To end the evening in style, Miguel Vieira brought a collection celebrating his 30 years as a designer, inspired in terms of colour by the pop art movement and vintage illustrations. "With the main focus on primary colours and prints, there is a combination of postmodern graphics and prints on classic garments with sporty details. The result is a streetwear couture concept, due to the emphasis given to tailoring, as well as a very strong urban aesthetic, which conveys a certain rebelliousness”, explained Miguel Vieira. Structured suits and plays on volume stand out, as well as the new printing techniques (laser cut, sublimation and heat transfer printing), overlapping items, utilitarian urban accessories and prints. The main colours are caviar black, navy blue, Riviera blue, aurora red and saffron.


The eagerly awaited début of Marques’Almeida

The last day of this 43rd event beginned in the morning with the eagerly awaited fashion show by Marques’Almeida, making its début at the event after having taken part in Paris Fashion Week in September with the support of Portugal Fashion. Students of the CITEX fashion school in Porto, Marta Marques and Paulo Almeida became a couple and a creative duo and they used their surnames to give the label its name. In 2009, they moved to London, where they completed their master's degrees in fashion at Central Saint Martins, the school of art and design that Alexander McQueen, Phoebe Philo and Stella McCartney went to. 

With their studio in the English capital, the duo has been taking part in London Fashion Week since 2010, with their Marques'Almeida line of women's clothing and accessories. Totally Portuguese, the label is characterised by its boldness and informality, with brightly coloured t-shirts, denim, deconstructed and oversized clothes, ruffles and the like abounding in their collections. But it was this M'A girls look that attracted not only the fashion industry, but also showbiz celebrities, such as Rihanna, FKA Twigs, Beyoncé, Solange and Sarah Jessica Parker.  

Having won several international awards, Marques'Almeida is now sold at around 100 points of sale and is present on well-known e-commerce platforms, such as Net-a-Porter, Yoox, Farfetch, MatchesFashion and Selfridges. Marques'Almeida employs over twenty people (three in Portugal) and this year it is expected to double its invoicing compared to 2015, when it invoiced 1.4 million euros. In late 2018, the duo expects to have invoiced between 3.2 and 3.3 million euros. 

At Alfândega do Porto, Marques'Almeida presented a collection inspired by Portuguese techniques, silhouettes and patterns. In a reinterpretation of our traditional shawls, fringes appear both in the form of long dresses and as elements of different items. The duo's new collection also incorporates black skirts sweeping the floor and white dresses with contrasting blue embroidery, reminiscent of Portuguese ethnographic imagery, particularly from Viana do Castelo, although with a modern context and design.  

The programme for the 43rd Portugal Fashion continued with three big names in Portuguese fashion: Katty Xiomara, Nuno Baltazar and Storytailors. It should be mentioned that the João Branco/Luís Sanchez duo returned to Porto, where they haven't had a fashion show in some time. And, as has been happening in Lisbon in previous Portugal Fashion events, Storytailors didn’t a tout court fashion show, but rather a performance presentation of their new proposals.  
The industry came into its own on the last day of Portugal Fashion. The Meam and Concreto labels presented their new collections, once again demonstrating the excellence of Portuguese clothing. Pé de Chumbo took its inspiration from the traditional design of the straw used in Portuguese furniture, in a collection where silk, cotton and raffia are used in full-bodied textures that create volumes or light and romantic textures with the glitter of sequins and fringes. 

In a collective fashion show, six footwear and accessories brands (Ambitious, Fly London, J. Reinaldo, Nobrand, Rufel and The Baron's Cage) showed the best of what the sector produces and exports. Later, with the label using his own name, Luís Onofre cleared away any lingering doubts as to the quality, sophistication and elegance of Portuguese footwear, which is one of the most competitive and with added value in the world.

Back from Paris, where he presented his last collection with the support of Portugal Fashion, Luís Buchinho attracted the attention of the audience from 8 pm. For the next warm season, the designer from Setúbal but based in Porto proposed a collection inspired by Gyotaku engravings, a traditional Japanese method that fishermen use to replicate the fish they catch. Fascinated by these images, Luís Buchinho experimented with prints in leather on jersey, ribbed and lace bases to achieve a shiny, metallic effect similar to fish scales. 

The catwalk in Alfândega do Porto played host to "skirts with Gyotaku prints, high waisted trousers with stripes in contrasting colours and snap fasteners on the side plackets and jersey dresses combined with pleated tops and wavy belts”. And the fish morphology and physiology shape the overlap construction of the coats and jackets.

It is worth mentioning that in this new collection from Luís Buchinho, the "trousers and dresses have zips with cotton in contrasting colours, piping with coloured ribbon, foile ribbing on the hems, neckline and waist, and details in perforated mesh, as a play on transparency, opacity and texture”. The predominant colours are "copper, mauve, fuchsia, red, purple, navy blue, white and black, refined by a silvery sheen”.  

Also back in Porto were Manuel Alves and José Manuel Gonçalves, the historical duo of Portuguese fashion who, in recent years, presented their always stimulating collections at the fashion shows organised by Portugal Fashion in Lisbon. After the two "Manuels", it was the turn of another well-known figure to take to the catwalk – Júlio Torcato, who is celebrating his 30 years in the business. 

To celebrate such a long and prolific career, Júlio Torcato lay down a challenge to 30 people who marked his 30-year career in fashion. Each guest (including Ana Deus, Anabela Baldaque, Cassiano Ferraz, Mariama Barbosa, Miguel Flor, Miguel Viana, Mário Matos Ribeiro, Paulo Gomes, Ruben Rua, Vera Deus) chose one of the 30 Júlio Torcato designs selected from his work over these 30 years and were given free rein to work on the garment and to "transform it, reinterpret it, without rules”. The results of these interventions were showed at the closing fashion show of the 43rd Portugal Fashion, along with the new collection by Júlio Torcato.  

For spring/summer 2019, Júlio Torcato proposes a "minimal collection”, which reinterprets our urban universe. A mixture of classic tailoring with the language of workwear, in shades of white, beige and camel, red and lilac, black and navy, with serge, brocade, lace, denim and technical fabrics”.

Portugal Fashion is a project under the auspices of ANJE – National Association of Young Entrepreneurs, developed in partnership with ATP – Textile and Clothing Association of Portugal. The event is financed by Portugal 2020, under the Compete 2020 - Competitiveness and Internationalisation Operational Programme, with funds from the European Union, through the European Regional Development Fund.