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Backstage at Alexandra Moura. Photography by João
Backstage at Alexandra Moura. Photography by João Bacelar.

Lisbon Fashion Week A/W 09

Considering that the four days of Lisbon Fashion Week opened with the title Heart Core and black was the primary colour used by most designers, where is the red blooded heart of Portuguese fashion?

At first glance, it seems to be located between technology and craftsmanship. The best and most consistent shows were the ones by designers that have a strong relationship with the industry and have embraced the possibilities that it brings to them.

Luís Buchinho
is a good example. His collections are always very structured and this last one was no exception. Based on the Nordic landscapes, it brought together his signature collection and the one he produces for Jotex, one of the biggest knitted wool companies in the country. Joining this two sides of his work, Buchinho payed tribute to the industry and to the way it helped him build his creativity. Using white, grey, icy shades of blue, dark blue and black, Buchinho showed a collection built on volumes and on the mix of fabrics and shapes, playing with the concepts of organic and geometric. The wool section of the presentation was defined by heavy structures and jacquards.

Ricardo Preto is another designer benefiting from the industry. He has only been presenting at Lisbon Fashion Week for three years and already shows an accentuated evolutionary curve, mostly due to the fact that he has joined forces with private financing to invest in the development of his business, giving it a more professional feel. In consequence, the last two collections represent a clear improvement in tailoring and finishings.

Inspired by the women of the 40’s, Ricardo Preto’s show was one of the best in terms of catwalk presentation. Using smoke and leafs on the floor, he created an instant mood, even before the models came in. The last dresses had very good ideas but somehow were the “weakest link” - Preto is a designer filled with imagery and references but needs a little more time to mature.

That does not mean that other designers, still producing basically in their private ateliers, are not giving birth to solid work. Filipe Faísca is known for his flawless finishings and Dino Alves has been evolving during the last two years, finding a balance between being an image maker and a fashion designer. Whether you like them or not, it’s a fact that the clothes are becoming more and more like garments and less like costumes, without loosing Alves’ visual eccentricity.

For the next autumn/winter, Dino Alves was inspired by a type of Portuguese woman, found mostly in picturesque neighbourhoods. This woman’s unconscient use of garments, without considering aesthetics, urged the designer to create a show that swept the audience off its feet from the first second: “common” women invaded the catwalk as the speaker boxes echoed the corniest Portuguese popular music. What followed was a parade of well thought clothes made in grown up fabrics, which could be worn directly off the catwalk. For the ones that know the designer’s path, it’s a pleasant surprise.

Faísca’s collection, “Marble Effect”, was made up by beautiful draped dresses and well crafted jackets, done in quality fabrics – silk jersey, silk georgettes, merino wool and cashmere were some of the materials used by the designer.  The star and must have of this sleek collection was the pleated ivory trench coat. The last few outfits could have been a little more edited but Faísca is mastering the art of putting on a great show with well made garments and no superfluous accessories.  

In the “junior” department, Lara Torres, White Tent and Ricardo Dourado are still stuck in some kind of creative rut. Torres, although she has good pieces, is in need of a refresh; White Tent and Ricardo Dourado, although promising with ideas, are victims of limited materials and probably financing too. After a couple of years of always being a good surprise, nowadays they leave us wanting more.

Lisbon Fashion Week ended with a presentation from guest designer Custo Barcelona. It was an explosion of colour and precision that represented beautifully the marriage between industry and craftsmanship.