It is that time of the year, the time to go to Porto, enjoy its wonderful culture, its steep streets and its gastronomy, and, at the same time, catch up on the latest trends. In its fiftieth edition and with a large number of proposals for all tastes, Portugal Fashion is consolidated as one of the great cities of European fashion after 25 years of spreading and promoting the talent of hundreds of creatives.
The Alfândega do Porto, an already usual location for regular attendees to the event, but surprising for its size, infrastructure, and impressive views of the Douro River for first-timers, hosted this event once again. In several rooms for fashion shows, showrooms and launches, 4 days of trends and culture where different points of view and working styles converge in an atmosphere typical of the pre-pandemic period, with no empty seats, without social distancing and with all the events and parties highly attended. It is reassuring to see how everything gradually regains its place and how we can once again unite without worry around fashion and art.

Despite some important absences such as those of perhaps the most internationally renowned Portuguese designers Marques´Almeida, it was possible to enjoy all kinds of proposals thanks to spaces such as Bloom dedicated to promoting young talent more experimentally and artistically, Creative Africa Nexus (CANEX) focused on promoting African designers, or spaces and runways dedicated to sectors other than purely textile such as jewellery at the launch dinner of the Travessia brand or footwear and leather goods with shows by Luís Onofre, among many others.

Fashion spread throughout the city with catwalks in places other than the Alfândega such as Diogo Miranda's runway and Ernest W Baker's installation at the Ateneu Comercial do Porto or the inauguration of the exhibition Portugal Pop, A Moda em Portugues 1970-2020 at the Casa do Design in Matosinhos which gathers a sample of at least 40 designers who narrate and shape the history of fashion in Portugal.

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With Victor Huarte, Spanish talent is present in Portugal and in the best way. Presenting under the Bloom platform, a space dedicated to promoting the talent of young creators, it gives the impression that Huarte is ready to leap to the front lines, being this, in my opinion, one of the most interesting collections of the season. The designer resorts to the preppy aesthetic, characteristic of the English countryside, and makes use of the codes attached to this but giving it a twist alluding to his style, reformulating conventional men's clothing, making it more appealing to today's consumer.
Sandringham is the name of this set of looks as well as one of the villages owned by the English royal family, with which Huarte also gives a nod to it, in particular to the Spencer film, finding inspiration in it for various aspects of his work. The varsity jackets, polos, or oxford shirts are essential to this style and are combined with more innovative garments such as shirts and long pants made of elastic fabric more typical of underwear than outerwear or with my personal favourites, bottoms that at first look like typical men's underpants, but when walking it is revealed as they are actually a skirt and that the ‘legs’ effect is generated by the cuts in the centre a very interesting twist to a garment.
In essence, a boring and without grace proposal is turned into a a refreshing and necessary garment for those who are not afraid to challenge the established. In different styles and including accessories such as moccasins, diamond socks, long scarves, and removable hoods, Huarte recovers elements from his childhood, turning this collection into a communion of who he was and who he is.
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David Catalán
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This is the second Spanish designer in our list, and without being biased, we must say that he is one of the most solid and consistent creators in Portugal Fashion Week. Based in Porto for some time and with an important trajectory that includes international awards, it is evident the confidence with which he moves on the Portuguese catwalks. Interesting how he also goes to the British inspiration for Together, but in his case in the use of tailoring in school uniforms from the 60s and 70s, in which he finds value in the concepts of comfort and versatility that surrounded them without leaving aside the elegance undoubtedly linked to them.
Altering volumes and proportions both in patterns in garments such as jackets and sweaters, as well as in prints and motifs, making a maxi version of the typical diamonds of knitted vests, David Catalán brings freshness to timeless classics. This freshness is also reinforced by the colour palette, as most British greys, blacks, and browns are contrasted with vibrant greens, blues, and yellows, as well as a bow shirt in a greyish-blue eye-catching metallic fabric. Being also a designer for Denim Blue, it was expected to find some indigo in the collection and the truth is that it appears quite a lot and in a very appropriate and coherent way with the rest of the pieces. Playing with the contrast between blues and dividing the garments by diagonals, the denim brings the spirit that is so important for the designer and that he always seeks to reflect in his work, the tribute to his working-class origins, and he achieves it in an elegant, classy and innovative way.
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Estelita Mendonça
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A regular on the catwalks of Porto, having made his debut in 2010, and having presented at venues such as Pitti Uomo in Florence, the Portuguese designer is always a figure to keep an eye on. This season with Terra Nullius, Estelita Mendonça gets political, at least in concept, and questions the term that gives its name to his proposal, this being the expression used in international law to justify the occupation of a territory of certain characteristics. No man's land, nation or geographical limits, these ideas are materialised in the form of prints, textural contrasts, and silhouettes that, according to him, allude to work uniforms and the questioning of the idea of identity.
With such a workable and juicy concept behind it, it is surprising to see a somewhat monotonous collection, except for some pops of blue or terracotta. The colour range moves between dark tones that are also played within prints of lines and grids, all within limits. It would have been interesting to see this same conceptual development reflected in looks as forceful as the speech. Mendonça is a designer who, as he explains, seeks to question and reflect his opinions and convictions in his garments, and although the proposal is interesting with elements such as overlays or volumes inspired by kimonos, it lacked a touch to finish conveying all the creativity that dwells in his mind.
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Hugo Costa
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With almost 15 years of experience, Hugo Costa is one of the most established designers in Portuguese fashion and one of the most recurrent in fashion week, having made the journey from Bloom to the main catwalk, even reaching international stages such as Paris Fashion Menswear.
This time around it plays on the concept discussed in the film Tenet about the relationship between the past and the future, transferring this not literally or formally to the garments but in the methodology of creation, where the brand recovers details of past collections and presents them this time in a more prominent way and focusing the looks around them. The most notable of these codes is the use of solid colours both in blocks and in total looks and also contrasted with black or denim. It presents proposals for both men and women but in which the line between one and the other is very thin, making them almost interchangeable and unisex in themselves. The garments are characterised by minimalist and clean cuts, as well as functional in almost any type of closet, with options of blazers, bombers, sweaters, shirts, etc. Hugo Costa manages to use his past to lead his firm into a promising future.
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Still relatively new to the catwalks of Portugal but with extensive experience in several countries and with a very recognisable style, Davii presents a collection strongly marked by the concept of nomadism. With an aesthetic that looks like it could belong to Dune or The Matrix thanks to the predominance of hoods in light fabrics and styling with dark glasses, it also refers us back to this idea of a somewhat dystopian journey. The colours chosen for the garments range from black, different shades of military green, vibrant blues, grays, and metallic golds, which are extracted from nature and the cosmos, as the designer himself mentions. They are also characterised by their lightness, the contrast between heavy and thin fabrics, and a very interesting pattern work in which pleats and drapes create fluid and well-constructed visuals. These are indispensable values for the brand that empathises the creation of the artistic process and the value of manual labour to make each garment unique.
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Susana Bettencourt
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As a graduate of Central Saint Martins with a specialisation in knitwear and a regular at Portugal Fashion, where she has been presenting since 2011, Susana Bettencourt's collections are eagerly awaited by lovers of this sector. Considering the popularity that knitted garments of all styles have gained in recent times, the designer addresses directly to this wide target with proposals that will surely be to the liking of her audience.
Identity of colors explores the two concepts mentioned in the name, the constant search for personal identity and the use of vibrant colours as a representation of happiness in certain moments of our lives. With jacquards made by combining these colours to generate different simulations of what could be dopamine according to each person, Bettencourt flaunts her technique in the handling of wool, not only with this method but also with hand-woven parts, variations of textures, tensions, volumes, and geometric games to complement and enhance the blocks of colour that are formed in each garment. Complements so present in current trends such as balaclavas or pieces increasingly worn by fashionistas as the monochrome twinset, complete the proposal and make this a desirable collection and suitable for the requirements of current fashion.
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