From October 11 to 15, we travelled to Porto to attend another edition of Portugal Fashion. Being one of the great platforms for promoting talent in the European fashion scene, this fashion week celebrated its 51st edition on this occasion. Quite an achievement at a time when resisting is more difficult than ever, proving to have faced the global pandemic and betting on constant renewal with the ultimate goal of adapting to the needs of the market, designers and customers. They have also made the delights of all fashion lovers, who this year have been closer than ever to Portugal Fashion. The fashion shows have left their star location, the Alfândega do Porto, and have moved to different spots of the city.
The last time we travelled to Porto for Portugal Fashion was in March 2022. At that time, the fashion week was celebrating its 50th edition with a successful event. But also with some important absences such as Marques'Almeida, one of the best ambassadors of Portuguese fashion that has gone back to the catwalk this season. Designers such as Ernest W Baker, Huarte, David Catalán or Luis Onofre, some of the projects that generate the most expectation each edition, have also not wanted to miss the great fashion event in Portugal. An event that owes much to its director, Monica Neto, and its head of communications, André de Atayde, as well as to the very complete team of professionals who get international press and buyers.

Even international designers such as the world-renowned Ágatha Ruíz de la Prada have joined the program, expanding the platform's horizons and demonstrating that more and more professionals are looking towards this fashion week, making it an essential event on the global agenda. The incorporation into the program of the designer from Madrid, well-known for her vibrant colours, is part of a new initiative with which Portugal Fashion wants to celebrate those brands that produce in the country. By inviting different brands whose production takes place largely in Portugal, Ágatha Ruíz de la Prada opens a new chapter in the history of the platform that bears the name of Made in Portugal Special Guest, which could give much to talk about in the future editions.

Nor have they been missing the collections created by young designers and the ones led by African creators under the Canex project, in some cases inserted in the Bloom catwalk dedicated to emerging creatives. Being one of the main strengths and differentiating factors of Portugal Fashion, its promotion of African talent continues to gain strength in a calendar in which the presentations of designer fashion and commercial lines achieve perfect balance.

But if there is something that we must highlight from this latest edition of Portugal Fashion, it is its commitment to bringing fashion to the street. Seeking a new way of communicating adapted to the new times, the organization has been able to take advantage of one of Porto's great legacies, architecture and its incredible locations, making some of the most emblematic locations in the city the backdrop for its fashion shows. From the Mosteiro de S. Bento da Vitória and the Museu de História Natural e da Ciência da Universidade do Porto to the Palácio da Bolsa, the Oficina do Ferro or the impressive and recently renovated Mercado do Bolhão. More than 40 shows and presentations with 66 designers and brands have taken place in just four days, and we are now highlighting the works that have caught our attention the most.

The brand led by Marta Marques and Paulo Almeida, Marques’Almeida, is one of the most acclaimed and beloved in Portugal Fashion. Since they settled in London in 2009, where they completed their Master's in Fashion at Central Saint Martins, the creative tandem has continued to gain strength on the international fashion scene. Having participated in London Fashion Week since 2010 with their line of women's clothing and accessories and receiving the award from LVMH 5 years later, their participation in the Portuguese fashion week undoubtedly helps to continue positioning Porto on the global map and speaks of its values ​​as a brand.
Their international success and growth as a business have not prevented them from keeping connected to their roots, to the place where they were born as a brand and with which they have proven to be closer than ever before. They are now back on the event after being absent from the March call, opting this time for a car park to present their new collection. The Parque Do Silo Auto, a space with marked industrial aesthetics was the location where they presented the most extensive and complete collection of all those unveiled these days. Vibrant colours, silhouettes adapted to the demands of the new generations of consumers, pieces for men, women and children and a demonstration of how to turn a fashion show into a whole experience.
Their presentation became a real party. “Thank you to all of you yesterday in Porto but also in London and everywhere the past years who have helped shape us and M’A!” they said from the brand the day after their event, in a clear demonstration of gratitude to the organization and to all those who have accompanied them on this exciting adventure as a brand.
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Ernest W. Baker
Continuing with those brands that have managed to find their own identity turning it into their differential factor, we must highlight the project founded by Reid Baker and Ines Amorim, originally from the United States and Portugal respectively: Ernest W. Baker. Having been nominated for the LVMH award in 2018 and present in 10 Corso Como, Antonioli or Ssense, the brand decided to unveil its new collection in its studio. A spectacular space defined by minimalism where we also had the opportunity to see a large part of their archive, meet first-hand the tandem of designers who were there to answer our questions and show us their impressive pieces, and enjoy a cocktail while we got to know their Spring/Summer 2023 collection.
Special mention should be made on the lookbook of their new collection, photographed by the brand's regular collaborator Vladimir Kaminetsky and styled by Mauricio Nardi. The images came along with a great selection of garments where attention to detail was evident, a staging built on the idea that less is more, and an immersive experience with which to make us part not only of their latest collection but of their way of understanding fashion. This well-resolved exercise calls into question the need to present on the catwalks. A tool that, though it can work perfectly for certain brands, is not necessary for all projects.
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We must not forget Huarte’s fashion show, starring the designer from Logroño, Spain, Huarte. His Spring/Summer 2023 collection, Destination Unknown, arrives after having presented one of the best works in the previous season, which we also featured in our general review in March. Victor Huarte, creative director of Huarte and menswear designer of Salsa, presented a collection in which functionality goes hand in hand with design while preserving some of its most recognizable symbols such as maritime-inspired aesthetics, stripes and an easygoing style but perfectly executed.
Maxi floral prints, caps or denim were some of the elements he opted for in his new collection, presented at the Museu Nacional Soares Dos Reis. We cannot overlook how lucky the Spanish designer was, since moments after his presentation it began to rain heavily, causing chaos among all the attendees. Under the rain, Orange Culture Nigeria and David Catalán unveiled their collections. And it is precisely for this reason, due to the impossibility of being present there and having to protect ourselves from the weather conditions, that we are not featuring the collections presented by both brands in this article. However, after having watched their fashion shows via Instagram live and having checked their work, we can confirm that both brands presented two of the best collections of the season.
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David Tlale
The South African brand powered by Canex was in charge of putting the finishing touch to the second day of Portugal Fashion with a fashion show held after 10 pm in the Alfândega do Porto. Presenting both menswear and womenswear, David Tlale’s  masterful use of colour deserves a special mention, immersing us in a chromatic journey that leads to vibrant hues that convey self-confidence and a huge dose of optimism.
Along with a very interesting vision of fabrics and textures, the acclaimed designer configures his own definition of beauty through detail and drama. The internationalization of the brand and its landing in Portugal does not leave aside its origins. Flowing silhouettes are offset by other corset-inspired pieces that accentuate the waist. His Psychedelicate collection was one of the most complete presented in this edition of Portugal Fashion. “Our mission is to make men and women of the twenty-first century beautiful. And that's all we want, beauty without pretence,” explains its founder and Creative Director.
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Masa Mara
Also within the platform powered by Canex, we must highlight the collection presented by the multidisciplinary artist, fabric and fashion designer Nyambo MasaMara. The Rwanda-born athleisure brand, inspired by the diversity of African cultures, was the first brand to present its collection on the third day of Portugal Fashion, with a fashion show held at the Palácio Da Bolsa. Being also part of the BLOOM program that promotes young designers, this brand received very good feedback from the public after presenting their work in the impressive historical building.
Rooted in its physical and spiritual pan-African identity, the brand immersed us in a kaleidoscope of exciting prints, sharing its vibrant and transformative vision of fashion with all of us. A vision that has a lot to do with the way of understanding fashion defended by Portugal Fashion, which is now struggling to maintain its presence on the international fashion map at a difficult financial time that requires seeking new formulas and support. The Portuguese catwalk is facing a complicated stage after not receiving community funding as a project to promote the competitiveness and internationalization of the national economy. But if things continue to develop in this direction, they will undoubtedly overcome all the obstacles and even end up stronger than before.
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