Portugal is fashionable, both as a sought-after tourist destination and thanks to the increasing excitement around Portugal Fashion Week, one of the most important fashion events in the Iberian Peninsula, which demonstrates the strength of Portugal's creative and production capability. For its 39th edition, the catwalks of Lisbon and Porto welcome established designers and brands as well as young talents, thanks to the Bloom project, an experimental initiative created in 2010 which aims to support and promote the most promising up-and-coming Portuguese designers. As the name “Bloom” suggests, these new talents have the opportunity to blossom, flourish, and shine on the catwalk, while also helping to spread a creative and modern image of the nation to the rest of the world. This initiative was strongly backed by Portugal Fashion itself, and carried out by ANJE (National Association of Young Entrepreneurs) through a partnership with ATP (Textile and Clothing Association of Portugal) and its success is due to the close supervision of designer Miguel Flor, who selects the designers and offers his council for producing the runway shows.
Among the most interesting designers featured by Bloom are Eduardo Amorim, Beatriz Bettencourt, David Catalán, Inês Torcato, and Pedro Neto. Amorim presented a menswear and womenswear collection entitled “Seattle Mes” that reflects on the defiance of '90s era Grunge as applied to today’s world of continuous change. The oversized styles depict a disorderly stride and stance, while the finishes are deliberately imperfect and the fabrics are transformed through natural dyeing processes. Deconstructed details are also the focus of Inês Torcato, who presented a genderless collection that redefined typical men's wardrobe staples – such as the shirt, blazer, and overcoat – with fluid, oversize silhouettes. Creating innovative menswear pieces, David Catalán, in his collection entitled “Forget About It,” offers a sort of oasis where anyone can find refuge from the more trivial day-to-day issues, a sort of gathering place that blends together softer and harsher elements. All-over prints appeared alongside neutral, delicate colors, together with contrasting black and white, in addition to sweaters and trousers enhanced with laser cuts. Based on the use of ironic color and playful knitwear, Beatriz Bettencourt (born in 1994 with a background in Visual Arts and Fashion Design), brings us back to the joy of the imagery and games reminiscent of our childhoods. Indeed, her collection “Retrograde” explores different variations of knitwear whose colors are inspired by Dutch architecture, reinterpreting a sporty style and the silhouettes of the 1970s. Finally, among the young designers is Estelita Mendonça, who studied Fashion Design at Porto Fashion Academy, and expresses a social message inspired by the adverse living conditions of refugees coming to Europe from Syria, in a multifunctional collection which is constructed with technical fabrics, rich in details and unusual combinations. The designer won Fashion Awards Portugal in 2012 in the New Talents category, and in 2015 he received a special mention from the International Fashion Showcase and the Prémios Novos prize in the Fashion category.
Portugal is also synonymous with excellent quality in manufacturing, with an important array of textile industries that produce for the most influential fashion houses. This excellence of quality is also reflected in the collections of established Portuguese brands, such as Miguel Vieira, a name recognized around the world as the result of his winning several important awards, such as the “Golden Globe for the Best Fashion Designer.” This year in September he made his debut at New York Fashion Week and soon will also present a runway collection at Milano Moda Uomo. His collection “Out of Africa” is an immersion into the colors and fragrances of Africa: tribal graphics are reminiscent of breathtaking sunsets and natural elements like animal prints that recall the majestic beauty of the African continent in a menswear collection both luxurious and sophisticated in the fabrics and in the cuts. Hugo Costa, who has been presenting his eponymous runway collections since October 2010, referenced Japanese influences with unstructured lines for his men's and women's collections. He has already won several international prizes, such as the title of “Best Male Coordinate” in 2009 and 2010, and the “Children’s Fashion” award in 2011, and this year he made his global debut at Paris Men's Fashion Week with the support of Portugal Fashion. The design aesthetic of Lisbon-born designer Alexandra Moura (where she has her shop and atelier) walks the line between masculine and feminine. Her collection was inspired by Victorian jewelry, which she expresses in the fabrics through delicate embroideries over tulle and luxe brocade, while other romantic details are combined with technical materials. The result is a mix between oversized and urban shapes, bows and frills, for a collection rich in color and strong details – a successful mix of classic and innovative elements.
Offerings in Portuguese womenswear are certainly growing thanks to designers emerging even from outside the country. Among these is Luís Buchinho, already the winner of several international awards, whose style is characterized by multicolor graphics applied to traditional sportswear shapes and fabrics, creating clothes that sensually contour and enhance the female figure. The standard colors he uses are white and black, combined with primary colors, to which he adds metallic, copper, or nickel details. Also in love with color is Carlos Gil, one of Portugal's most recognized designers, who has opened his atelier and store in Fundão and is now developing his own international brand. His Spring/Summer 17 collection is aimed at exploring various cultures throughout several continents through their unique color palettes, from the most delicate to the most exuberant, combining them in geometric prints and patterns. And finally Pedro Pedro (born in 1973) who began his professional career in the world of fashion illustrations and menswear, then launched his first womenswear line in Milan and Paris. His latest collection recalls the mood of the film "Dune" by David Lynch, playing with asymmetrical feminine silhouettes, characterized by contrasting textures. Portugal Fashion Week exhibited a range of designers, each rich with personality, aesthetic codes, and with a solid production capacity that can guarantee important international growth for the country and its designers.
Gallery above (from left to right): 1-2: David Catalán, 3-4: Eduardo Amorim, 5-6: Estelita Mendonça, 7-8: Hugo Costa, 9-10: Luís Buchinho, 11-12: Miguel Vieira, 13-14: Pedro Pedro, 15-16: Alexandra Moura, 17-18: Carlos Gil, 19-20: Ines Torcato, 21-22: Luis Buchinho, 23-24: Susana Bettencourt