Portuguese fashion makes itself at home in Paris
Due to the sizeable immigrant community in the French capital, it is often jokingly said that, after Lisbon and Porto, Paris is the third largest Portuguese city in the world. This season, fashion didn't let down the Lusitanian contingent in the City of Lights, showcasing the country's creative and commercial potential with a number of runway shows and presentations looking to carve out a space for Portuguese design in Paris Fashion Week's packed calendar.
It's not a straightforward decision for brands that present their collections off calendar, torn between going all in with a show during Fashion Week to make the most of the fact that the press and international buyers are concentrated in the capital, and trying to establish a niche for themselves at another time in the busy fashion season, dominated by the rhythms of large brands and a wide range of other events which cater to all tastes and interests. Although individual strategies have to be adapted to each brand and designer, if in doubt, strength can be found in unity – and the Portuguese have got this down to a tee.
A clear example of this is the Portugal Fashion project, the organisation which is responsible for both Porto and Lisbon's Fashion Weeks and which also supports the country's designers abroad. This season, the association was behind the runways of Diogo Miranda and Luis Buchinho, which took place at Paris Descartes University on Wednesday. The first of these two designers, who made his Paris debut three years ago, offered up a collection entitled "Two Thousand Nineteen", inspired by the works of American photographer Irving Penn. Focusing on ethereal, feminine silhouettes, Miranda designed his pieces with "dramatic images and shapes; a mature, independent woman who is sure of herself" in mind. A woman just like model Carolina de Maigret, who acted as the designer's sponsor, taking pride of place in his front row and warmly congratulating him backstage after his show.
"For Portuguese designers it's very important to present our collections in Paris. The city allows us to show our creative vision to the world," the Porto-born designer told FashionNetwork.com after a runway in which structured silhouettes, three-dimensional volume and batwing sleeves were centre stage among designs in silk, crepe and linen which shifted from nude and pastel tones to darker shades of violet, burgundy and black.
It's a sentiment which was echoed by Miranda's compatriot Luis Buchinho, who, after two seasons away, was tasked with closing Portugal Fashion's event in the 6th arrondissement. "Paris is the city where the majority of trends begin and where designer fashion companies see the highest growth," he stated, noting the positive impact that Parisian shows have had on his brand's sales. On this occasion, his runway was inspired by the Japanese tradition of Gyotaku, a natural printing technique which was reflected in marine-inspired designs that played with metallic tones and different textures to create a contrasting fish-scale effect. The technically complex collection mixes "a slight sportswear influence with more couture elements that accentuate the feminine form with a simultaneously casual and sophisticated effect", explained the designer. The result is a collection of futuristic-looking disco-toned pieces with real commercial potential.
Miranda and Buchinho, who will also make runway presentations at the October edition of Portugal Fashion, were not the only example of Portuguese talent on show, as the day also began with the Parisian debut of 2015 LVMH Prize winners Marques'Almeida. The design duo, who studied at Central Saint Martins, showed their punky, biker-chick collection as part of the Fashion Week's official calendar at the Palais de Tokyo. Fellow Portuguese designer Felipe Oliveira Baptista, creative director at Lacoste up until last Spring, even showed up to support the couple.
Fatima Lopes, on the other hand, presented her 40th runway show in Paris on Tuesday, 25th September, with a collection entitled "Splash". Also channelling an aquatic theme, the veteran designer paid homage to her zodiac sign, Pisces, with crystalline colours, sparkle and transparency. The parade of Portuguese talent will come to an end on 4th October, with Joel Reigota Atelier's Autumn/Winter 18/19 runway which will take place in Portuguese concept store eNeNe, where pieces from the collection will then go on sale.
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