It is one of Europe’s longest standing fashion weeks, initiated in 1991, and concluded its 44th edition over the past weekend. ModaLisboa is the bi-annual event in which Portugal’s fashion capital Lisbon gets to show what its local fashion industry is all about. That doesn’t mean it’s a Portuguese-only affair however. Apart from the exchange agreement between ModaLisboa and the Poland’s fashion week (which sees one designer from both countries participate in the fashion week of the exchange partner), it was Portugal’s former colony Angola, which stole the show.
OPEC crisis or not, diamond and oil-rich Angola is still considered one of the biggest investors in the Portuguese economy. The southern African country is amongst Portugal’s largest export markets, after Spain, Germany and France. Currently, the daughter of Angola’s president, who goes by the name Isabel Dos Santos (and happens to be Africa’s first female billionaire), is the second-largest shareholder of Portuguese bank BPI , in addition to being the main shareholder of Portuguese TV and telecom firm Nos SGPS.
Model Fabio Tavares, Amilna Estevao and Fernando Cabral backstage at Miguel Vieira (Photo Credits: Bernardo Coelho)
Models Fabio Tavares, Amilna Estevao and Fernando Cabral backstage at Miguel Vieira (Photo Credits: Bernardo Coelho)
Dos Santos’ stepmother, Angola’s first lady Ana Paula Dos Santos, has a thing for fashion. She is no stranger to Lisbon’s high-end shopping street Avenida da Liberdade (neither are the majority of Angola’s mega rich, who often own residencies in the surrounding area), and an extravagant shopping spree at a Blumarine store in Milan, has inspired the fashion brand’s founder Anna Molinari, to set up a boutique in Luanda.
When it comes to the Angolan first lady her favorite designer however, it is Luanda-based Nadir Tati who has earned a special place in her heart, as well as in her wardrobe. Tati presented her collection, which was themed “40 Years Of Independence”, for the first time at ModaLisboa. The collection saw the use of ankara fabric – which is often favored by African designers – in addition to a number of sheer evening looks, plus a full dress and matching headscarf in native Angolan style, that made for the ultimate show stopper.
The final look from Nadir Tati’s “40 years Of Independence” collection (Photo Credits: Rui Vasco)
Angola’s presence was also felt on the runway outside of Tati’s show. Internationally sought-after models, discovered in the former Portuguese colony, strutted down the square-shaped catwalk for a variety of designers. Portuguese creative director Miguel Vieira – whose offerings for fall consist of high necklines for her, double-breasted suits for him, in dark hues of bordeaux and black – was one of the many local designers to cast Angolan newcomer Amilna Estevão for his show. Sixteen-year-old Estevão made her debut on the catwalks of New York, London, Milan and Paris earlier this season, where she walked for the likes of Fendi, Prada , Alexander Wang and Balenciaga.
The new face was joined by fellow Da Banda model (the Luanda-based modeling agency who acts as mother agent) Alécia Morais. Morais, who has worked with brands including Kenzo and Tom Ford this season, turned out to be a favorite amongst Portugal’s designers as well. For Luís Carvalho she walked down the runway in an asymmetrical dress, which came in the type of earthy tone that is in perfect harmony with the Portuguese capital’s dry climate. Designer Pedro Pedro was another fan of Morais, and sent the African model down the catwalk in a bathrobe-inspired look defined by loose stitching.
Alécia Morais for Luís Carvalho (Photo Credits: Rui Vasco)
Even though the country is fighting to keep its head above water in critical economic times, Portugal succeeded in celebrating fashion throughout three days. All of this, could potentially lead to an increase in spending on local fashion. But in case the Portuguese won’t be up for it, the Angolans will.