by Mafalda Neto
10 Questions to the Fashion Designer Luis Carvalho
1 – Let’s start from the initial stages of your career.
I was 15 when I decided that I wanted to study Fashion, after a lot of going back and forth between fashion and architecture. When I had to make the decision Fashion won, so I took a professional course in Guimarães. Then I went to college in Castelo Branco to study in Escola Superior de Artes Aplicadas where I took a 4 year degree in Fashion Design and Textile. I then came to Lisbon to intern with Filipe Faísca for 8 months. Working in his atelier was a wonderful experience because I see him as a reference. Then I worked with Ricardo Preto as an assistant which was different but just as enriching because he was more focused on styling. I was with him for six months and then I went to work in a Miguel Vieira’s store temporarily just until I got another job.I then moved and I was back in the north of the country and started to work at Salsa Jeans, as a designer. I stayed there for two and a half years and it was a completely different experience but also a crucial one. Working with the industry, with suppliers, deadlines, clients was a solid base for what I’m doing today. In 2013 I decided to create the brand Luis Carvalho. I did a capsule collection so people would understand what my brand was and the brand’s image. I contacted Lisboa Fashion Week to see the possibility of entering into the LAB. I had a few meetings and it wasn’t easy. Everyone thinks it’s just a matter of knowing the right people. It isn’t. I had to work hard and defend my work so they would believe in me and understand that I wanted to work in Fashion, not just for a year or two but for good. They believed in me since October 2013 and I’ve been presenting in Lisboa Fashion Week since then.
2 - Was it always your dream to be a stylist? Was Fashion a passion since you were a kid?
My mother owns a Textile Company so I grew up surrounded by fashion. I don’t know if that ended up having an influence on my choices. But I really liked architecture too. I remember being little and drawing blueprints of houses and thinking about how I would organize spaces. I also liked the fashion world a lot and I used to watch my mother and my sister and I played with pieces of fabric and that’s when I started to realize I was really into fashion.
3 - What excites you the most about your work right now?
Right now is creating new collections. I think that’s always so challenging because I always try to beat what I did before. I think what I enjoy the most is seeing someone wearing my clothes.
4 – How does your creative process work? By intuition?
Sometimes is hard to get started but when I do it, it all comes out naturally. Usually I think about something that I want to do. Some detail I saw that I want to work around or some image that I recorded that inspires me. And from that I start to build up the concept and to see materials. Some other times I see some material I really like and build the story around it. Nature can be very inspiring. Also before starting to work on new stuff I always watch my previous shows to see what worked and what I didn’t do so well so I can always do better.
5 - Do you think travelling and getting to know other cultures is important for your professional and creative development?
Travelling is super important. Whenever I can I’m travelling! I’ll actually be in Thailand in a mix of work and leisure and I’m sure that I’ll be very inspired to do something in the future. Not this next campaign - which is already being prepared and finalised - but for something in the future. It’s very important to travel and to meet new people because it broadens our minds and even for our creative process it can be very good to go through the experience of travelling.
6 - The collection you presented in Lisboa Fashion Week Spring Summer 2018 was titled Eagle Eye. What are the main characteristics you stand out in your collection?
Maybe the textures and the precise and detailed work on the fabrics. Also the colour range using pastel colours, very soft. And I like to build the collection creating an harmony of colours to be pleasing for the people that are watching the show.
7 - With your recognized talent we need to address your internationalization as a designer and as a brand. Do you see as essential to show your collections in the big Fashion Centers?
Totally. I think it’s a goal and I’m working on that. Analysing the best strategy and if it’s better to have my own showroom or to give it up to have it abroad. But that implies other investments. So everything will have to be very well planned. I’d rather have a showroom if that brings me sales because that’s the most important thing for a brand to grow. After that comes everything else. I already had some proposals to do a show in Paris, New York and Milan but that would imply other things and I don’t want to be just another designer. I rather wait for the right moment and do things at my own pace, and maybe the showroom is more important for the brand for it to be more independent and more stable financially.
8 - If you got a job offer to be a designer for a big international Fashion House would you take on the challenge or do you want to be exclusively linked to your own brand Luis Carvalho?
I think I’d say yes. Any designer that has a proposal like that would say yes. It wouldn’t necessarily mean the end of my brand. I could take some time off or work on both simultaneously. Although it would be very complicated but I think yes, for sure. It’s not my final goal to be a designer for a consecrated brand but if an opportunity like that steps up I will definitely consider it. But I am focus on my brand and if I’m working on it it’s because I believe in my project.
9 - What are the goals you still aim to achieve?
The brand’s becoming international and to stick around for many, many years.
10 - Generally what’s your vision about fashion in Portugal?
I think we have a lot of potential but I think sometimes people don’t see this as a business. I notice that in the younger generations they forget this is a business. It’s not just go there every six months and present a collection just because it’s cool. In the beginning I felt that I did two presentations and thought ‘this is always going to be like this and we’re not moving forward’. Now, I want to sell more. I want to reach other audiences. I need to have more goals. And I think the younger people here don’t think like that and all they want is to be famous. But then I see others who do the effort and are always trying to get out because Portugal does not have a market big enough for all of us. It’s very hard to thrive depending only on the Portuguese market. I feel that in the stores where I sell my clothes people buy them, but if they had something by Gucci, they would buy Gucci instead. That’s hard on us. Because more often it's foreigners that give us credit and bet on Portuguese brands.
All the pictures in this article by Kid Richards.