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Mar 28, 2023

ModaLisboa‘s 60 solid editions attest to its commitment to Portuguese fashion design. Renowned for its textile industry and production capacity, the neighbouring country has been home to local manufacturers that work with a large number of European companies and brands. Portugal has been working for years to take advantage of its strong manufacturing industry in order to catapult its own designers into the global arena. Lisbon’s fashion week, known as ModaLisboa, certainly plays a key role in ensuring that Portuguese design gains international recognition. 

Arndes and Buzina fashion shows – Ugo Camera / ModaLisboa

Organised in collaboration with the Lisbon City Council between March 9 and 12, ModaLisboa’s latest edition saw a day of conferences, the Sangue Novo platform’s emerging talent awards, and up to 23 fashion shows and presentations held at the innovative and industrial venue Lisboa Social Mitra.

“It is a special date that celebrates Portuguese fashion’s unparalleled history. These 60 editions have not only built a unique idea of the industry, but also the image of Lisbon itself as a platform for disseminating Portuguese fashion, its creatives and its always imaginative manifestations,” said Carlos Moedas, president of the Lisbon City Council, on the anniversary of the event. 

For her part, the president of the ModaLisboa Association, Eduarda Abbondanza, underlined the importance of the theme chosen for this season, ‘Core’.

“It speaks of our essence, but looking inwards does not mean that we have limited our scope of action, nor that we are no longer susceptible to contemporary volatility. On the contrary. At a time when every news item resembles a dystopian scenario, in which cities and countries are transformed, in which reactivity seems to be the only form of communication, it is also time to reclaim our voice. And our voice is the voice of our designers,” said the organiser.

Constança Entrudo presentation and Béhen fashion show – ModaLisboa / Ugo Camera

Design that gets better and better with every edition

Lisbon offers a more relaxed fashion week that encourages less commercial experimentation, far removed from the media coverage and saturated agendas of other European fashion weeks. An effervescent breeding ground, at times with hints of punk and underground elements, has allowed a number of leading contemporary Portuguese brands to flourish. 

This was the case of Béhen, the brand that designer Joana Duarte launched in 2020 to promote upcycling. Duarte recycles home textiles and tapestries to make her garments and uses artisanal and handmade embroidery techniques. After a period of absence from ModaLisboa, the sustainable brand that is 100% produced in Portugal presented a more mature co-ed collection. The collection preserved tradition by working with techniques such as Madeira and Viana do Castelo glass embroidery, combined with innovative laser cutting, digital linen printing as well as using materials made from cork or grapes.

Recognised at Paris Fashion Week for showcasing Portuguese design a couple of years ago, Constança Entrudo opted for a performance format to unveil her latest collection created in collaboration with illustrator Ema Gaspar. The designer who studied at Central Saint Martins and has worked for well-known brands such as Balmain, Peter Pilotto and Marques Almeida upheld her already recognisable style consisting of deconstructed and frayed knitwear in pastel colours, presenting a dreamlike and mythological take on her designs wrapped in woollen yarns.

Designers Filipe Augusto and Luís Carvalho’s fashion shows – ModaLisboa / Ugo Camera

While renowned local designer Luís Carvalho, who launched his eponymous brand in 2013, stayed true to his signature tailoring for men and women combined with elegant long dresses, the young menswear designer Filipe Augusto presented a collection marked by provocation and sensuality around the male body. Loaded with notions of masculinity, the collection established the creative as an international name to look out for by fans of Ludovic De Saint Sernin and J.W. Anderson.

On a more formal note, Buzina, founded in 2016 by Vera Fernandes, presented voluptuous looks and dresses in bright colours, while Ana Rita, head of the Arndes brand, presented her own minimalist and sober designs. The creative director studied fashion design at Modatex Porto and then went on to join the ranks of the emblematic Portuguese brand Luís Buchinho before winning the first prize in ModaLisboa’s Sangue Novo competition in 2021. 

Showcasing different players in the sector

Apiccaps’ Portuguese Soul presentation at ModaLisboa – ModaLisboa / Ugo Camera

Among the new additions to the last edition’s calendar was none other than an established brand, proving the importance of the Portuguese fashion event for both small niche brands and big brands with a strong international presence. The denim brand Salsa Jeans used the event to unveil its new Fall/Winter 2023 collection with a runway show presenting three complete looks. The models strutted on top of a long table following a gala dinner attended by around 50 guests.

The exclusive and festive show was the perfect way for the brand, founded in 1994 in the northern Portuguese town of Vila Nova de Famalicão, to celebrate its denim DNA with feminine designs adapted to different body types. Owned by Sonae since April 2020, Salsa is present in 40 countries through more than 2,000 points of sale.

Salsa Jeans show on the gala dinner table – ModaLisboa / Ugo Camera

Portuguese footwear also took pride of place, partnering up with the fashion week’s clothing offerings. The sector, 95% of which is exported, presented a project dedicated to the excellence of Portuguese footwear entitled ‘Portuguese Soul’. The collective show, organised by the association of footwear industry specialists, Apiccaps, showcased the creations of Portuguese brands such as Ambitious, Carlos Santos, Campobello, Tatuaggi, Leather Goods by Belcinto, Luís Onofre, Miguel Vieira, Nobrand, Sanjo and Valuni.

According to the organisers, the footwear sector reached an all-time high in terms of international trade last year, reinforcing the “business” aspect of the event. Representing 1,900 companies responsible for 40,000 jobs, the Portuguese Footwear and Leather Goods Cluster exports to 173 countries across five continents, a trade that amounts to 2.4 billion euros per year.

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