Cláudia Pinto
Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. Among swallows, turtles, furs, lace and glitter, emerging from between clothes racks and fittings, Carlos Gil prepares himself for the unveiling of his winter 2017 collection in what is considered to be the international capital of fashion. At this time of year with Milan playing host to the best creativity it has to offer, backstage or in the spotlight, magic is happening far from prying eyes, behind the curtains.

The day before, hundreds of models, the sound of busy heels on the production room floor and an anxious rumble of voices indicate the preparation for lights up on the catwalk, the excitement and hope for success building with every carefully planned step.

But it is 1900 kilometres away from the catwalks of Milan, nestled in the hills of Fundão that weeks before, each step in preparation for the big day is put into place.

Carlos is a perfectionist, knowing the exact length of every hem, the number of sequins in each jacket, and which model is wearing what meticulously conceived outfit. This winter is to be young at heart, inspired by a childlike imagination demonstrated in eccentric patterns and acrylic appliqués.

“I felt like having fun with fashion. I don’t take it too seriously. Often when we are creating, it’s only afterwards we realise how serious we’re all being. With this collection I really wanted to reinvent myself.

Aside from the exuberant colours intended for grey days, it’s the choice of materials and artistry that catch the eye. But what one cannot see up on the catwalk, it’s backstage that the attention and work going into the lining and finishes of the outfits becomes clear. Jackets lined with the same desire for perfection as when buttoned up. “The interior of an item of clothing is like a person to me. In life we place as much value on what’s inside as what we see at face value: we find a person’s outer appearance attractive, but in the end it’s what inside that captivates us. It can’t be any other way: my clothes have to have quality finishes and the insides have to impress my clients as much as the outside.”
Back to Milan, the final two hours leading up to the catwalk presentation are abuzz, making sure everything is ready for the unveiling. Hairdryers can be heard, powder brushes dart over serious-faced sculpturesque models. The outfits are fitted to perfection, the hems checked again, the appliqués in place.
A screen downstage shows the room filling up with photographers, bloggers, journalist and buyers, where just half an hour before models were familiarising themselves with the space.
Back inside, once the protagonists are in their outfits, they get into line. The backstage managers bellow haughtily, as Carlos weaves between the models checking every last millimetre of material. The lights go down. The first model appears and the fear fades away.