"One thing is to quarantine, another is to be a mess." With this message in a humorous tone, Portugal Fashion gave the go-ahead to the second take of The Sofa Edition, the most atypical call in its history with which they overcome the obstacles derived from the pandemic, in an entirely digital event divided into two episodes. The first one was unveiled exactly one month ago, and the second and final chapter has just been released, in which established designers coexist with the young promises of Portuguese fashion. Three days have been enough to challenge the structures of an industry that needs to undergo a transformation, in which the seasonal system, the fleeting nature of the collections and the way to consolidate businesses are questioned. A reflection that this edition has also allowed us to do from the comfort of our homes.
No more than ten days full of fashion shows, without the marathons that make it impossible to see all the unveiled collections, nor infinite waits until the show begins, which makes it impossible to arrive on time for the next presentation. The Sofa Edition is an invention that has corrected many of the problems that prevail in a sector that tends to prioritise immediacy over quality and meaning all too often. It seems incredible that we have had to live a pandemic to slow down the unsustainable pace that governed the fashion system, although it is still too early to confirm that these changes will prevail. It is clear that the ingenuity and adaptability of the traditional fashion show format have been questioned, and Portugal Fashion has been one of the platforms that have got the best result in this regard.

In March, they hosted the first take of The Sofa Edition, a revealing format with which to follow the different presentations through streaming, in which brands such as David Catalán, Estelita Mendonça or Ernest W. Baker (whose outstanding works we analyse now) took part. Now, the second and last episode of this strange –though exciting– the season has just seen the light, holding the shows only in the afternoon. We finally have time to admire the talent calmly, being able to pay attention to the details of the collections and corroborate the potential of the Portuguese fashion scene, which we already talked about when we visited Porto at the end of 2020.

From Hugo Costa's mountaineering-inspired protective uniforms to Marques'Almeida's spectacular staging on the world's longest pedestrian suspension bridge, the fascinating collections presented by Bloom, dedicated to young national talents, and Bloom Upload, an experimental platform for designers who are still in the early stages of their career. A programme followed by talks, encompassed in Thinking Fashion, where different professionals have discussed the future of the sector, and the official presentation of the sports equipment of the national team for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. We collect the proposals that have awakened our interest, which show that Portuguese fashion has a promising future.

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Betting on timelessness, ethical production and the education of its consumers on responsible values, the young designer now presents his new collection, The Lighthouse. And as we anticipated a few days ago, the creative from Logroño, a city in northern Spain (where David Catalán was also born) is inspired by the coast, turning the aesthetics of the fisherman into a much more delicate image, through the importance given to detail and accessories. A small but complete proposal that, although it could be classified as menswear, responds to the unisex philosophy defended by Huarte, who moved to Porto in 2017 through the Erasmus programme to finish his studies in fashion design. Having created his own masks with his personal checkered and striped pattern, the creator presents one of the best collections in the morning.
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Nothing remains of the white palette that prevailed in her latest collection, Híbridos, presented on the Portuguese catwalk within the Bloom program,e last October. But her DNA remains intact, something to highlight as a young designer, who runs the risk of being carried away by trends, forgetting her identity in order to adapt. The Angolan designer, who has lived in Portugal since she was 13 years old, bets it all on black. Keeping the oversized outer garments, as she did 6 months ago, she finds the balance through tight dresses (also in black) with cut-outs and metallic details that move as the models walk. One more chapter of a search for her essence seems to consolidate with each step she takes.
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Hugo Costa
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Some designers find inspiration in the most terrible chaos. Hugo Costa opts instead for organisation, structured but not rigid dynamics and order, both in his proposals and in his brand philosophy. This is evidenced by his presentation, which takes place outdoors, which he organises by blocks of colour in his new Nimsdai collection, the nickname of the mountaineer Nirmal Purja Magar, known for reaching the top of Everest in record time. The first part in which black is combined with colourful details, which is torn between protection and suffocation, the models (among whom there are also children, a niche in which Costa gets into for the first time) seem to disappear behind hoods that don't reveal their full face until they end up in a second protective blue skin. This is a parenthesis that takes up the dark tones in a very relaxed way which he intersperses as his presentation progresses. The last episode's dedicated to yellows, reds and earth colours, are these the uniforms of post-pandemic reality? It seems that the creator immerses himself in the psychology of colour, using prints and providing a more urban and casual touch compared with his previous collection, where there is no shortage of padded down jackets from maritime inspiration. And he does it by claiming Portuguese talent and the need to support local creatives: "buy national design," he says.
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Marcelo Almiscarado
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The Bloom contest winner presents his new collection after having participated in several competitions and proving once again that he is not afraid of anything. His collection is daring, being one of the few that incorporates primary colours in such a pure way, and is inspired by the observation of a vase of flowers. While the plasticity and textures of his new collection arouse interest, the peculiar accessories designed for the head, which adopt different shapes and shades, stand out too much in a proposal whose outstanding tailoring is blurred between structures that seem somewhat incomplete. Asymmetrical suits and dark dresses are precisely those pieces in which the talent of Almiscarado is demonstrated, whose work has already been recognised by the Portuguese platform. An exploration of materials that, depending on how they are intermixed, offers different possibilities and styles
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Rita Sá
We already anticipated it in October, when we saw her collection Palmeiras Na Neve, in which there was a promising talent still contained, pending to be exploited. But what we could not expect is that she would go over to the dark side, saying goodbye to the Mediterranean spirit that permeated her garments half a year ago, where blues coexisted with whites and relaxed fabrics. Rita Sá bets all – absolutely everything, from head to toe – on black. Straight-cut product pieces that, despite the drastic change evident to the human eye, are a continuation of her minimalist vision of fashion, in which stridency is not necessary to gain a foothold in the market. The big question is: where will this brand be in the coming months? We will have to wait to see it.
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The Marques’Almeida shows have become one of the most expected events in Portugal Fashion. Why? Because it isn't really common that, after having achieved success abroad and having presented their work on the most important catwalks around the world, a brand makes as much effort as their Portuguese project does to surprise with their proposal. They have enormous respect for their native country, to which they pay tribute in the form of shows that do not go unnoticed, claiming the importance of local production and sustainability. And the spectacular Portuguese landscapes, as evidenced by their latest show, held at the world's longest pedestrian suspension bridge in Arouca. An initiative that is accompanied by a film in collaboration with the singer and rapper Nenny and the second issue of the See-Through publication, in which members of their families have collaborated, in which natural fabrics, multicoloured dyes and relaxed silhouettes stand out, as well as their already characteristic denim. The creative tandem continues to bet on functional fashion without giving up on design, and they explore it through their upcycled ReMade range, which dedicates all their efforts to explore new formulas that, in many cases, consist of revitalising past traditions. A panoramic view of effective and smart fashion.
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Escola de Moda do Porto
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If there is something in which Portugal Fashion stands out compared to other international catwalks, it is that the platform is committed to getting a balance between young promising talent and the big names in national fashion, as a way to boost the country's potential. And this is reflected in the collections presented by EMP (Escola de Moda do Porto), whose presentation has allowed us to get to know two young designers with their own very defined identities whose work is remarkable for its social, cultural and environmental interest. Joana Carmona takes us to an icy ecosystem with Icelanding, a collection in which her own life experiences meet her grandmother's manufacturing art. An attractive reinvention of craftsmanship marked by textures and details, built from different shades of blue, white and hints of ocher. Meanwhile, Conceição Nunes, finalist in the EMP Fashion Design course, bets on a perfectly executed minimalist aesthetic with urban airs in her Aldeia collection. Turning neutrality into her main strength, the collection offers an aesthetic coherence.
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Estelita Mendonça
His presentation was included in the first take of The Sofa Edition, held in March within the framework of Portugal Fashion, but the outstanding result of his knowing how to take advantage of the resources that fashion film confers deserves a special mention. In October, the goal of the Portuguese designer was “to study the idea of chaos as an element of juxtaposition and creation of new elements,” as he commented. And now that it seems that the pandemic is beginning to subside and we're approaching apparent normality, Mendonça bets everything on strength, movement and the exploration of the human being in his five-minute audiovisual piece. A turning point in which fashion joins forces with dance, demonstrating that this project with a consolidated and recognised trajectory, is ready to face adversity (showing that its garments are comfortable and allow freedom of movement). A dose of energy more necessary than ever.
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David Catalán
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Two months before showing his Fall/Winter 21 collection in Porto, David Catalán presented his work at Milan Fashion Week through a video in which the models walked through a completely empty room. And this is the same video he showed in March at Portugal Fashion, opting for a reduced selection of looks in which he says “to be faithful to his sporty, fascinating and formal aesthetic.” Neutral tones that lead to darker pieces, that preserve an explorer DNA (something remains from the safari inspiration from 6 months ago), that take the form of timeless pieces that could well compose a perfectly studied capsule wardrobe.
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Ernest W. Baker
The brand founded in 2017 by designers Reid Baker and Inês Amorim, whose work already impressed us in the previous edition of Portugal Fashion, had also unveiled its new collection months before on the international fashion circuit. While David Catalán did it in Milan, Ernest W. Baker returned to the Parisian catwalks (in digital format), presenting a video that could perfectly be a music video from a recognised musical artist. Surrealist images, powerful colours and a disturbing atmosphere which perfectly evoke the emotions that the tandem wants to convey, but does not allow us to see the pieces that make up their new proposal. And it is that perhaps the garments shouldn’t be the leading role in these difficult times we are living, but in the feelings, the identity and the coherence of a discourse that does not cease to consolidate. Always with a vision of optimism and hope, the result of having analysed what's important, which culminates in a reflection they share. “Even the worst of dreams will eventually fade into the wakefulness of a new day.”