From Beirut to Tel Aviv via Lisbon, the Now Gen Med expresses its Fashion vision and its stakes… Fashion letters from Lisbon by Carlota Morais Pires, Journalist at Vogue Portugal.

The beginning of a new Fashion era in Portugal by Carlota Pires, journalist at Vogue Portugal. Contrary to Italy, France and Britain, which benefit from lengthy, intimately connected cultural links with the Fashion world, Portugal seems to be only now awakening to it. There are obviously strong connections from the past to art and a powerful architectonic heritage, but Lisbon has never been the place for revolutions like those that struck Paris, London and other European cities, and which have generated such creativity impulses in the art and cultural worlds.

We have supported four decades of a dictatorship, which have smothered freedom and, with it, arts and culture (muzzled by censorship), the will to create and the call for innovation and a future. Ideas outside the box were obliterated, and deep conservatism established. Meanwhile, throughout the ninety sixties Europe, social disturbances develop in the name of Peace, the Beatles lest their hair overgrow and forget love songs in favour of sex, drugs and rock’n’roll. This is the time when androgynous characters appear, and he has put his stamp on music as well as on Fashion, and groups begin to use their clothes (or lack of) to deliver their message.

The 20th century has witnessed the surge of some of the most outstanding characters, people way ahead of their time, who shook the world with futuristic ideas. Portugal did not follow that European trend, naturally, and only started to emerge (slowly) from its isolation after 1974. During the 1980’s appear the first women’s magazines including Fashion, such as Máxima, Elle and Marie Claire – now long gone. For the first time ever, there is an opening for António Variações and other stars of the Lisbon nights, who started creating their own clothes and accessories.

The first Fashion Week in Lisbon was in 1991 and, many years later, an association of young creators from Porto launched the Portugal Fashion, an event which was initially focused mainly on the textile and footwear industries (with a powerful stronghold in the North of the country). The two fashion weeks remain operational, now with a one week interval. Meanwhile, Vogue appeared in the years 2000. It was the first Portuguese Fashion magazine, and it’s initial; purpose was to launch a new paradigm in Portugal, encompassing photography, aesthetics, arts, culture, as well as an opening towards new considerations and launching emerging design talents.

Today, the textile and footwear industries remain among the strongest in Europe with Italy, and Stella McCartney and Saint-Laurent have a great deal of their collections produced there. The Fashion culture still is a recent venture, and it remains difficult to find the opening towards modernity; let the Marques’Almeida duet, the jewellery designer Valentim Quaresma, Alexandra Moura, Susanna Bettencourt (OpenMyMed Prize 2017) and Luís Carvalho take the first step into the future.