Fashion is a stage

Text: Patrícia Barnabé

The ModaLisboa Workstation displays the work of promising designers for spring-summer 2020 and the only limits are the four walls of the Sinel de Cordes palace in Lisbon.

Photographers and illustrators were also invited to this multidisciplinary platform, but fashion is the centre of attention. And literally when the rooms where the photographs of Natural Beauty are hanging, an exhibition of the Architecture Triennale, are filled to admire a return to performance. Fashion feels at home in revivalism, even more so in a space of freedom and experimentation.

In the first room, António Castro takes us into a hedonistic and nocturnal hallucination, the pieces illuminated by lanterns that a group whirls around: “A game of seduction where the lights create dynamics and a certain difficulty of concentration, taking the attention to the clothes and the detail.” The characters “that do not fit” are designer Constança Entrudo, dj João Viegas and others, “political agents, like my clothes,” he says. The idea of performance is perfect: “What interests me is how clothes teach us how to act, how to move, the character we wear or we discard. Having a man in a bodice can be an interesting trigger, and one that bothers me, but what interests me is the agent of change.” He studied textile design at Central Saint Martins in London, dividing his time between this city and Paris, and a touch of Brit can be noted inspired by the Bright Young Things group of the photographer Cecil Beaton and by the DIY of punk, but designed for “aristocrats, poets and artists” of a generation open to the world, who take jeans and dresses from the flea market and take them apart to create something new.

Rita Afonso studied Architecture and Fashion in Porto, she passed through the Sangue Novo [New Blood] competition of ModaLisboa and presented herself as ‘Rita Afonso leaning against a palm tree’. Amadeu is dressed by a circle of girls who play together like children.”always in a bib and with clothes either too loose or too tight. Clothes inherited from his cousins, Joaninha and João. That’s why Amadeu rarely wears the colour he likes best and the length of the sleeve rarely reaches the end of his arm”, we read in the presentation text, with candour and humour in balanced doses: “(…) the important thing is to put on another jacket, don’t let the boy get cold”.

Archie Dickens studied textile design and went into fashion after a master’s degree at the Royal College of Art. His knits come out of a workshop at Anjos 70, in Lisbon and the process goes a long way: “Sometimes I get carried away just fiddling about on the machine!” The collection SAPAL is inspired foremost “by the plants I have accumulated around me, but also by the transition zone between the sea and the forest — the fluidity of change and the crispness of new growth. I wanted to create a small wardrobe for summer that could be worn on the beach or at the dining table”. It is a mixed collection comprised of beachwear and conceptual dresses, but also three men’s looks to “approach the more feminine side”. His love of knitting came from his mum: “She is a knitter and a weaver and spins her own yarn out of the wool from the sheep in our field at home in Devon, England — so this appreciation of the handmade and a uniquely personal design process began at an early age!”

Artur Dias was at ease with his minimalist and fluid Opiar, since fashion design was a complement to his know-how as a performer: “So, besides being able to live the stage, I can create for the stage”, he tells us. He decided on a “flatter and easier to read” collection, because he wanted the public to interact with the pieces, but could analyse more deeply the theme and the motto of this collection, the letter: “To go from letters and phrases to bodies and clothes in a contemporary dance work. This letter is written from the future to the past, from light to darkness, from resilience to agony”, always concerned with “the detail, grandeur and rigour”, Artur returns to his dance origins in a collection that is “intimate and natural, as if it were about breathing”, and this proximity between designer and viewer couldn’t be happier, “through the direct exchange of ideas and emotions.”

Cristina Real studied at Modatex and, like Artur, showed her work at Sangue Novo. But she prefers this format to a simple runway show: “The audience interacts with the pieces and have a different perception of them, being able to better understand the fabrics, the details, etc.” The Chapter Eleven collection is, in her words, “the transmission of memories from an old family photo. Like a movie from the past with the emergence of a present future, the need to continue — the sequel.” Distinct decades are exalted acknowledging the nostalgia of a lost childhood, but ones also feel “an ode to technology — arcade, computers, cassettes, radio, TV, and the television universe (advertising, cartoons, telesales, marathon and no signal) — futurism, pop culture, the extravagance, ex- aggeration, volume and colourism of the 80’s. (…) a fantasy where everything is turned upside down and nothing is clear.”

Federico Protto was in the last room, a dramatic collection were it not inspired on ‘Antigone’ part of Antigone, by Sophocles. He graduated from the University of Applied Arts in Vienna, where Hussein Chalayan and Bernhard Willhelm were his teachers. He lives and works between Budapest and Vienna, and his work combines fashion, costumes and styling with art, musical performance and theory. This is “one of the most analyzed and interpreted Greek tragedies. Now, the protagonist is spent. Antigone doesn’t want to be a material, but a role model.” So Federico designs a collection of costumes “created for an interdisciplinary event that involves performance, dance, video, music and theatre”, which was performed at the Schwere Reiter theatre in Munich, and at ModaLisboa it is presented as a site-specific installation.

Photos: ModaLisboa

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