Selected as the only Portuguese designer to feature in both the book “Young European Fashion Designers” and the “Atlas of Fashion Designers”, Alexandra Moura has a body of work well worth these and other recognitions. Her clothes always tell a story and follow a concept which is there since the very beginning, as she tells us in this interview which took place backstage at Lisbon Fashion Week, four hours before her collection took to the catwalk.
Her shows in this event on the best in Portuguese fashion date back to 2002, when she began showing her very interesting proposals, the result of a thorough process of design craftsmanship. Born in Portugal, Alexandra Moura feels Portuguese and loves indeed the country she lives in. But she is more than that; she is a true global citizen, something we can clearly see in her collections, whose imagery brings us to all the corners of the world.
Trendenz – This interview is taking place one year after the presentation of one of your most striking collections: “Bittersweet”. The first question hence has to focus on that very same collection. Where did you get the inspiration for that collection?
Alexandra Moura – I got inspired in both urban and rural themes. Hence, black was there as a symbol to everything urban, more structured, rigid, heavier. As for the prints they bring us to romanticism, to things delicate, to nature and to rural atmospheres. I thus mixed total black with that explosion of colour: bitter and sweet.
T – How did you research the materials for that collection?
AM – I did my research in trade fairs and in international fabric suppliers as I usually do. As for the shirt-making and cotton fabrics they are Portuguese. We are pretty good at it. The materials were chosen based on that well-defined concept. When we have a concept, it becomes easier to find fabrics that convey our message.
T – You always have a strong concept in your collections. Clothes have to tell a story?
AM – Yes, definitely. The day that won’t happen I will leave fashion. I never had the ambition to do fashion I did not whether I should study animal biology or astronomy, areas that fascinate me. At a given point in my life fashion came up as defence mechanism that was there for me to communicate. I had too much in my mind, there were places I wanted to visit… and all these concepts nurture me and give me the strength to make a collection. I now tell stories though my clothes that curiously are not ephemeral. Looking back at them it all suddenly still makes perfect sense. They are part of my path in life as a human being, as Portuguese.
T – You are Portuguese but your Portuguese influences are not obvious in your collections. You find inspiration in the world of Indians, German painters, touaregs with skateboards…. Where does all this come from?
AM – I don’t just feel Portuguese, I feel rather global. I identify with a number of cultures. I have this sensation that many countries and peoples identify with me and have been in contact with me either in my current live or in past lives I might have lived…I have strong connections with other countries and other cultures. I speak Portuguese, I am proud of my country, we have a beautiful country with a huge potential and the more I travel the more I feel that. I adore Lisbon. But when I go to Japan I feel Japanese, in Brazil in get in the spirit of the country, if I go to Africa I feel the magic…
T – What are you daily habits and your cultural habits and how do they inspire what you create?
AM – My habits, both mundane and routine, and my cultural preferences generate sensations that lead to an idea. It never comes from an image alone it comes from an image associated to a sensation. The image is not enough. When I was in Japan I did not know whether I was looking at the images or at the shadows. The trees had incredible shaded projections. I was in a world of colour and in a world of black and white silhouettes at the same time. All that led me to design a collection inspired in shadows.
T – What has influenced you most in fashion?
AM – The Japanese, undoubtedly. I am fascinated by the rigueur, by the technique, by the aesthetics, by the manner how they see the man, the woman, the body, the tri-dimensionality of the bi-dimensional relation of clothes, which gains tri-dimensionality when worn. They don’t have the need to make too evident things. This simplicity of their designs and the quality of their fabrics gives us an extraordinary aesthetics. Then there is the Belgian School, which has a huge potential and which is related to the Japanese school.
T – You did an internship with Portuguese designers Ana Salazar and with José António Tenente, who curiously share also the aforementioned influences. How did you come to work with them?
AM – Ana Salazar was the person who made me look at fashion as something that was beyond clothes. She made me realise that I could create and put ideas into practice. She opened up my horizons to the aesthetic aspect. When I finished my course, I shyly showed my resumé and some days after she called me and I worked with her for one year. It was extraordinary. She is my fashion mother. Then I worked with José António Tenente and with him I experienced the rigueur, the elegance, the organisation and an involving intellectual side. I managed to get the best ever from both of these designers and this was great to make the fusion into what I am today.
T – Your shop currently has not only your clothes and accessories but also items from Portuguese designers. Why did you decide to do so?
AM – We have stuff by great Portuguese designers like Rui Duarte, White Tent, A Forest Design, Sara Malta, Carolina Coralto,, Fernando Brizio, Remix and now we have the Books by Pedro Albuquerque a fabulous work of art. We make all the selection and the idea to have people from other works is just great. My ambition was never to have my own shop alone. I have many influences, many exchanges of ideas, collaborations hence the shop had to feature that. I had to convey that to the public. When people enter my store they are also entering my taste, what I like, my universe, they will be looking at things that mix and identify with my work.
T – What can we expect from your collection? It is inspired in geometry from what I have read…
AM – I have always been obsessed by geometry. That is where true simplicity lies. All is related to geometry. I go through curious processes and I feel the need for different geometric shapes in my life. At the moment I miss the square. The square conveys the potential for organisation and materialisation of things. The square brings us to number 4, number 4 to the 4th dimension and to temporal space and there I enter a time machine and go back to the origin of everything, to the origin of the planet when there were not humans yet but just textures. This collection speaks a lot of textures, it is very tubular, very straight-lined, it not a matter of shape alone. Shape is not that easy because there has to be greater rigueur. I wanted to bring everything back to the origin, what I want to convey with this collection is the birth of a new DNA, the need for of a new human being.
T – Do you think we need that?
AM – Yes, I think we are changing. The changes we are going through on Earth, in the cosmos… I feel we are in this together and that things are changing. We are now more fined tuned, we have the same state of mind, there is a change happening, we have to go back and to think things over.
Thank you very much for this interview, Alexandra