Because they speak with one voice, it’s hard to know where the man ends and the designer begins. There are no two coexisting people; his work is also who he is. And this can be seen in the caution and perfect execution of his pieces. His heart is in Vizela, but it was in Castelo Branco that he graduated with a degree in fashion and textile design. In 2011 he won the prize for the best coordinated male at Acrobatic and began working with some Portuguese designers. However, it was in 2013 that he made the big change. He launched his own brand and made his catwalk premier at ModaLisboa. In 2016 he received a CG Men of the Year prize in the fashion designer category and in 2017 he won the Best Stylist Golden Globe.
Luís, let’s start at the beginning. Did you always dream of becoming a designer? What did you do before then?
When I am asked if I always wanted to be a designer, I answer that it was only a decision I made when I had to pick the path I wanted to follow in Year 9 at school. But at the same time I think it had always been a part of my life since I was very young. I always lived at the heart of the textile industry: my mother made clothes and I spent a lot of my childhood playing with the rags lying around.
I took a technical course in styling at the Cenatex Professional School in Guimarães and then got a degree in fashion and textile design from the Higher School of Applied Arts.
In 2009 I interned with Filipe Faísca and worked as an assistant for Ricardo Preto until 2010, when I started working as a designer at SALSA Jeans for two-and-a-half years.
When I decided to leave SALSA in 2013 I took some time to decide what it was I really wanted to do: whether to follow my dream to create my own brand in my own name, or to keep on working in other fashion companies. At that moment I decided to launch the LUÍS CARVALHO brand. I began by developing the first FW13 capsule collection as a way of making my aesthetic known to the public. In October 2013 I was on the LAB platform at ModaLisboa, then in 2015 I moved onto the “main catwalk”. Since then I have presented my collections every season. As the brand has grown, I have twice had the opportunity to present my collection at Paris Fashion Week and once at Berlin. I also won the GQ Men of the Year prize in the fashion category in 2016 and the Best Stylist Golden Globe.
What would you change in your career?
I don’t think I would change anything in my career. Every step I have taken has been cautious and thought through. Even when I decided to launch the brand, I only did so when I was sure the time was right.
And even today I am very proud of the path we have taken.
ModaLisboa was important for your career. With the changes the international fashion weeks are experiencing, particularly in respect of the fashion shows, do you have a sense that the shows will be different in future?
ModaLisboa was certainly crucial for my career. It gave me visibility and the platform I needed to show my work.
In the future shows will undoubtedly be different. Even now, in the current situation we a living through, we are seeing digital shows. I think we will lose a bit of the charm if we carry on like this, because it is only in a real show, with models, music and an audience, that we are able to sense the emotions we look for with each collection.
What is your main concern when you start thinking about a collection?
My main concern is to exceed the expectations of the previous collection and, of course, to pay ever more attention to the commercial aspect.
In what ways do you think the industry will develop?
I believe the industry will become increasingly sustainable. Consumers are going to be much more careful and think more about their purchases. I think there’s a growing demand for exclusivity, the handcrafted and for quality. Which is good for small businesses.
Last year you came together with Tânia Diospirro in the battle against breast cancer. Do you believe fashion should also draw attention to these kinds of causes?
Fashion has always been associated with beautiful causes, and there is nothing more beautiful than helping a cause. It made every sense for me to associate myself with causes like this and to understand the power fashion has and how it can bring people together to help others.
Has the way you communicate with your customers changed between the day you started to today?
Yes. Communication with the customers is something that is always changing. We have to continuously adapt and learn how we should interact with a customer.
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