ModaLisboa: the future of design is called Sangue Novo
Last Friday, October 6, the tension was palpable backstage at the Carlos Lopes Pavilion, just before the fashion show held by Sangue Novo's emerging designers, charged with the task of opening the first day of ModaLisboa. Natural emotions which were very much in tune with the talent that overflowed on the runway. The message was clear: Portugal is about youthful craftsmanship. And has a lot to say.
Just hours before he was announced winner of the ModaLisboa prize, David Pereira explained his creations like a volcano erupting ideas. "I present a confused and disorientated individual in the constantly changing city", he stated, pointing out that he would be presenting an Autumn/Winter collection, rather than Spring/Summer 2018, the collection normally shown at this time of year. "The clothes evolve out of the new interpretation of the individual, who doesn't know how to wear them and ends up giving them a new use."
Inspired by great metropolises such as Paris, places where the heights of luxury and the most recent fashion trends rub shoulders with the most extreme social marginalisation, David Pereira presented a silhouette in metamorphosis, playing with different volumes and interpretations of sportswear, thus following in the path cut by Demna Gvasalia as head of Balenciaga and Vetements. The collection's post-modern originality and quality finishing gained praise from critic Suzy Menkes, who had just arrived from Paris Fashion Week.
"I would prefer to explain the collection in Portuguese, instead of English", Filipe Augusto asked almost apologetically, worried that, because of the language barrier, details might be lost in translation. A wise choice from the designer of "7 Saias". Indeed, his menswear designs can only be understood by looking to the Atlantic: his collection takes as its starting point the "Sete saias de Nazaré" (seven skirts of Nazaré), a traditional Portuguese costume, and makes multiple references to the codes of fishing.
Crochet was wrapped around the models' bodies like fishing nets and traditional chequered aprons were deconstructed in an original revision of androgyny. This folk inspiration melded with modernity through silver detailing, culminating in the techno vibes of the collection's key piece: a striped metallic green rain coat. Augusto's creative timidity conquered the runway and won him the FashionClash prize, awarded by Brank Popovic, co-director of the eponymous fashion festival. The honor means the young designer will represent Portugal at the festival's June 2018 Maastrich edition.
A year ago, designer Rita Afonso underwent the same experience, an episode in her career that made her fully aware of the importance of the quality of the product and its raw materials, concerns written large all over her new collection. "We have to promote education in sustainable fashion", she pointed out. "Consumers have to learn to buy less and better".
Responsible for the most mature collection at the latest edition of Sangue Novo, Afonso presented an ode to "boredom" as described by Walter Benjamin, with women hung up by their hair wearing linen pieces that aimed to create a clear brand image with recognisable prints, and oversized leather accessories in the shape of hands. This allowed the designer to perfectly combine the artistic and the commercial, winning her the retail prize of the Portuguese concept store, The Feeting Room, which operates in Lisbon and Porto.
Rita Sá, deserving winner of an honorable mention, presented a deconstruction of asphalt, materialized through a morphological study of sportswear that goes a step further than its intended use. Elsewhere, Federico Cina bet on an interesting collection built around leather and different textures, and Iván Almeida opted for a visual concept based on asymmetric designs, which flowed into each other throughout the show.
Portuguese fashion needs commercial strategies and an economic impulse that can guarantee its survival when in a field of neighbouring fast fashion giants and large luxury conglomerates. The raw materials and talent are already there. Perhaps the only thing that's missing is for the industry to believe in the project as much as these young designers. After all, it is these talented individuals, stammering and hiding shyly when speaking about their successful designs, who hold the future of the industry in their hands.
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