Mixing traditional and contemporary: Interview with Portuguese designer Alexandra Moura
Always fascinated by distant cultures, identity, and history, Lisbon-born designer Alexandra Moura finds, in the historical period of the Portuguese expansion, a romantic and nostalgic heritage that still today distinguishes Portugal in the world. However, although her brand is inspired by her traditional roots, her genderless and non-conforming designs allow for a contemporary twist. Having started her brand in 2002, she has already gained critically acclaimed success, being one of the selected designers to showcase at London Fashion Week by the British Fashion Council, winner of the Women Culture Creator's Award and regarded as one of the top Young European Fashion Designers. Here to speak about her journey and inspirations, is a conversation with Alexandra Moura.
Describe your style of design in three words:
Conceptual, romantic and urbane
What got you into fashion?
It was a moment that I didn't know what I really wanted, I felt like an animal misunderstood in the woods, and fashion began to make sense in order to communicate through it.
And in the midst of thoughts and research in books (at the time there was no internet), I found two amazing minds that messed with mine... Yohji Yamamoto and Rei Kawakubo.
Everything made sense, after all I was not so backwoodsman!
This threw me into the world of arts, specifically fashion design, where I remain to this day.
What’s been the journey of Alexandra Moura so far?
It´s been long. Starting in 2002 with a small team we developed collections twice a year and many other projects not related to the collection. The internationalization was a big step and probably the most important one in our journey.
What inspired the Portuguese influence in your work and how have you captured the culture?
The prominent romantic theme comes from the cultural identity and history of Portugal.
I can also somewhat relate to my Portugese ancestors when I look out at the ocean where I live. The vast expanse of water makes me want to explore and discover other worlds, tribes and aesthetics - just like they once did.
Describe a typical Alexandra Moura wearer:
We design for the consumer that likes to mark her individuality. Someone with a high visual and general knowledge, with a strong sensibility of the creative world, of the current world, with strong ethics and humanity values.
A person that is very aware of the present and what is happening around the world, making her want to project herself in a very contemporary manner. A consumer that, in every scenario, likes to make a statement through little details. Our dream consumer is someone who likes to invest in art, in dreams, in differentiating themselves and in elegance.
What’s the inspiration behind your Spring 2017 collection, ‘I’ve got my eyes on you’?
The SS17 collection was inspired by the secret history of "lover´s eyes", a romantic victorian jewellery, exchanged between lovers.
In terms of design, delicate eye shaped tulle embroideries adorn the garments, keeping the essence of the antique handpainted brooches, with a contemporary design and finishing. Bold shapes, ties and ruffles come together and create a dynamic look through iconic and statement items.
What’s the most challenging part of your creative process?
Probably the definition of the creative concept. There are so many influences around me that I need to focus in a specific concept.
Where do you hope to be in 5-10 years?
I hope to be in the best stores all over the world, basically to consolidate the internationalization of the brand.
What’s the most difficult thing about starting a label?
The biggest difficulty is the lack of institutional support.
Where do you generally find inspiration?
From everywhere…music, books, travelling, etc.
What’s your favourite piece which you have designed?
I can not say I have a favorite piece, but I can say that it gives me great pleasure to draw coats and dresses.
Do you have any role models and or influences? And how have they impacted your work?
Probably Kawuakubo and Yamamoto were influencers to start my own brand.
What would you change about the fashion industry at the moment?
The industry of the fast fashion needs to change really soon.
Which celebrity would you want to wear your designs?
I do not work for celebrities.