ModaLisboa: a return marked by avant-garde design
The pandemic put the fashion industry's small and medium-sized events to the ultimate test. Limited by security measures, travel restrictions and the withdrawal of sponsors, some opted to delay their dates until they found a more optimal time, while others embraced the rise of digital events as an alternative during turbulent times. There was also a third scenario, incorporated by ModaLisboa from the very beginning, which was to combine the physical format with a digital support platform. This intermediate strategy has been synonymous with a struggle for survival, as was the case for Lisbon fashion week. With the long-awaited return to normality, we take a look at the collections showcased at the event filled with character that managed to weather the storm.
"We have fought hard to stay on our feet, staying true to our values. We couldn't be prouder to still be here," said the event's international coordinator, Lígia Gonçalves, acknowledging the forcefulness with which the pandemic struck, forcing the event to reduce its size which is now gradually recovering. In its last edition held between March 10 and 13, the fashion event bet on establishing creative partnerships, moving the event to a new location: Factory Lisboa's Hub Criativo do Beato, located on the outskirts of the city. Previously intended to house companies and factories, this location now embarks on a journey in which its industrial architecture becomes a backdrop that will host start-up initiatives from multiple industries, not only fashion.
Lisbon City Hall's commitment to fashion
The new venue, which brought a good dose of renewal and a cool factor with references to Berlin and London, the event organized in partnership with the Lisbon City Hall managed to showcase 26 collections, physically gathering 10,000 attendees, while its conferences and fashion shows reached 465,000 total views, between streaming, the internet, social networks and ModaLisboa's own app. "It’s a special moment, a year of recovery from the pandemic in which the physical once again takes center stage in our lives, while the 'meta' transforms them on a daily basis," said the mayor of Lisbon, Carlos Moedas, alluding to last edition’s concept which revolved around the "Metaverse".
"This is the perfect place to host this iconic initiative. It is a space of the future that represents a new vision for Lisbon: a city that finds in its roots the energy of disruption, launching a new generation of creators into a space that harbors the freedom to create, to innovate, to be," continued the city's mayor, underlining his support for "Portuguese talent and the ability to transform fashion into an example of sustainability and responsibility," in a speech held on the opening day of the event. Meanwhile, Eduarda Abbondanza, president of the ModaLisboa Association defended her commitment to bring "continuity, evolution and openness" to the city. "We are back, in line with Lisbon's stance, focused on the brilliant intersection of fashion, technology, innovation, entrepreneurship, art and culture," she said about wanting to create cross-sector synergies.
"We have focused on intangible fabrics that unite them: complete freedom of expression, independence, identity, empathy, mutual support. However, we did not know that we would apply them in a context of brutality in Europe," they explained, given the complex global issues that have bathed fashion events since the outbreak of war in Ukraine, which occurred in parallel with Milan Fashion Week. In solidarity with the Ukrainian people, ModaLisboa collaborated with Unicef Portugal to fundraise, and in addition, several designers broke their silence during their presentations. Blue and yellow also took over the cover of Vogue Portugal’s latest issue.
As is customary at ModaLisboa, the first day of the program offered attendees a series of conferences and talks with industry experts. Presented by Joana Barrios and structured in a "pitch" format, it reflected on technology with companies such as Yahoo, Farfetch, Vasquiat, Skinvades and Klarna’s contribution. Sustainability was also discussed together with industry names such as Guess, Pangaia, C.L.A.S.S. and Tintex Textiles.
Portuguese brands to be on the lookout for
In addition to the emerging brands introduced during the Sangue Novo competition, which awarded local designers Maria Clara and Filipe Cerejo during this year’s edition; ModaLisboa was once again characterized by innovation and avant-garde collections, such as the one presented by João Magalhães, who opted for a performative presentation inspired by "Venus and the solitary cloud". The lineup merged Catholic iconography with the urban environment, and the parade combined videography and dance.
The sustainable label Béhen, known for constructing garments from classic Portuguese table linen or various household textiles, added a certain farewell with "Adeus, hasta ao meu regresso" (Goodbye, until my return). The collection was tinged with the folklore air of some of its colorful fabrics, short jackets, puffed sleeves, die-cut fabrics or jackets made from traditional sewing techniques of the Azores, as well as fitted waists and several arsenal embroideries.
"We are continuing to increase the number of artisans we work with, which is this project’s mission. Fashion is about how we communicate these traditional and artistic techniques to new generations," recalled Joana Duarte, the designer behind the firm founded just two years ago. "Fashion can be a bit overwhelming and we have to put this issue on the table. We need to be transparent about what it means to work in this industry and how difficult it is. I'm still trying to understand the best way to organize how to work with craftsmanship. Hosting fashion shows and presenting twice a year, working with some of our artisanal techniques, is at times a bit too intense," she said about the fast-paced industry and her possible "see you later."
While Duarte was inspired by street dance to create colorful casual sportswear and Buzina charmed away with a collection of Scandinavian flair and voluptuous dresses, Hibu treated the crowd to a casual show of streetwear inspired by the nineties, featuring baggy pants, prints in lavender and green tones as well as vinyl looks. Meanwhile, Filipe Augusto reworked men's tailoring in pastel colors, Ricardo Andrez revamped workwear with intense blue in a collection full of balaclavas and Constança Entrudo organized a presentation inspired by an everyday wardrobe and Adolf Gottlieb’s paintings. The more established designers included Luis Buchinho who mixed minimalist silhouettes with reminiscences of rock star glamour, while Luìs Carvalho showed off his tailoring skills through elegant jacquard and taffeta garments for both men and women.
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