ModaLisboa 2019: Insights from Joana Jorge

ModaLisboa is gearing up for their newest Fall/Winter incarnation entitled "Insight." We caught up with project director Joana Jorge to get the inside scoop.

Fashion Week in France has ended and now it’s Lisbon’s turn to turn some heads on the runway. While Portuguese fashion production may be mainly located in the north of the country, the creative forces behind some of our favorite lines are taking over the capital city. New ideas from fresh talent and fresh perspectives from veteran designers will kick this season’s shows into high gear.

Back for its 29th year, and its third edition at the Pavilhão Carlos Lopes, ModaLisboa is rolling out their newest Fall/Winter incarnation entitled “Insight.” What had been formerly held in Baixa’s Patio da Galé has moved onwards and upwards to Parque Eduardo VII‘s larger venue and its sweeping views of the city it celebrates.

The shows will run from Friday the 8th to Sunday the 10th of March and can only be entered by invitation, but that doesn’t mean you still can’t go and get a feel for the pulse of Portuguese fashion in the capital. While 31 designers are making the final adjustments to their 10- to 15-look collections and the last few nuts and bolts are being turned on the runway platform, five igloo-style yurts are opening to the public outside the venue with the aim of engaging passers-by and fashion aficionados who didn’t get the golden ticket. ModaLisboa’s project director Joana Jorge walked Atlas through the plan for the weekend, her take on the Portuguese fashion industry, what’s what with Sangue Novo (new blood), and how modesty is “in.”

Thursday night’s 18h “Happenings” party at the newly-opened Carpintarias de São Lázaro will kick off the long, fashionable weekend— a day before the lights go down and the music gets pumping inside the pavilion. Four participants in the previous Sangue Novo competition will be showing their collections on live models, followed by Fast Talks in which four industry professionals will give their perspectives on what’s happening. This event is open to the public by prior reservation on the ModaLisboa website, and you can still sign up. According to Joana Jorge, this party lends the public “an opportunity to sit down and feel the product. We like it to be relaxed and not too uptight— and we want to use this freedom to do something a little more interesting than just your average fashion event.”

Jorge told us that the plan for the event is simple: inside the pavilion is for ticket-holders and outside the pavilion is for the public. The yurts surrounding the pavilion are intended to facilitate various experiences for those who are curious. The checkpoint “bubble” will hold workshops, young designer exhibitions, talks on sustainability, a tailoring master class, and more. You can also see a live atelier where the kooky aging seamstresses from A Avó Veio Trabalhar (“Grandmother came to work”) will be helping to construct jackets and trousers for eight different designers, all of which will be exhibited on Sunday.

There will also be a pop-up shop for small projects and young brands focused on sustainability, lifestyle, jewelry, home goods, and more. When asked how important it is for ModaLisboa to find and promote upcoming designers (or new blood, in fashion speak), Joana Jorge said, “We want to stimulate the discussion for the young public while we invest in the future of young designers.”  I needed to find out more.

Q: So what exactly is Sangue Novo? Tell me a little about the competition.

A: Every season since 1998 we have selected recent graduates to mentor and promote on and off the runway. Formerly the competition was only open to Portuguese graduates, but recently the competition has been opened to international applicants. The more we open it, the more incredible designs we get. We want to join local fashion with the world, and more and more there are designers setting up shop right here in Lisbon. Most of the new blood we select are somehow focused here [through school, production, or sourcing]. What you’ll see on exhibit and coming down the runway is from the six finalists from last season. They are competing for a masters program at the Polimoda fashion school in Italy and 5K to help them get started, and the support of our partners at the Câmara Municipal de Lisboa, the Associacão Turismo de Lisboa, and Startup Lisboa

Q: With all the new business and startups here in LX, people are saying Lisbon is the new Berlin. What’s your take on that?

A: When the hype hit Berlin, yes, it was all about entrepreneurs and startups and we are there now, but Lisbon is Lisbon and Berlin is Berlin. We are in a lucky position because we can learn from their mistakes. I hope we are learning, anyway!

Q: What’s your goal for this year?

A: The market requires us to develop the glamorous side of fashion, but we are trying to give the press a perspective on what Lisbon is while we give back a little glamour to the citizens. We would like to have an open door so we can have a meaningful dialogue with all sides. 

Q: Who’s the designer to watch?

A: There will be a lot of surprises, but Gonçalo Peixoto is a good one to keep an eye on. So is Ernest W. Baker, Luis Carvalho, and many others! I’m excited about them all, really. It’s such a good mix of perspectives this year, so there’s something for everyone. 

Q: You’ve got a sneak peek at the collections: What’s hot this season?

A: Let’s talk on Sunday.


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