You might wanna put on a life vest for this one.
I love+hate my best-in-show pick for Lisbon Fashion Week. Only true passion can trigger that. I hereby submit my unapologetic praise+criticism for NUNO GAMA’s flawless homage to grand Portuguese seafaring heritage. Looking at the runway was akin to watching an armada break the horizon line, approach full-sail and run your dinghy right the f*ck over, leaving one breathless and groundless in its magnificent wake. Stay with me and keep paddlin’…
At first sight, my kneejerk desire was to own every. single. thing! My brain lit up with a string of superlatives: it is spellbindingly romantic, masculine, venerable. I had to look up “venerable” in a dictionary to double-check what I meant. The aesthetic appeal of these looks appeared instinctive and natural like riding an incoming tide homewards. I could not avert my gaze or get enough. Nuno Gama presented a masterful fashion narrative worthy of its poetic source material about Portuguese geopolitical “discoveries” of the 15th-16th centuries… “fine materials that may have adorned the most honored navigators, such as precious wools, rich velvets, soft cashmere, smooth leather are all beautifully tailored…” #Epic #Exotic #Colonial and we know this one, by heart. As a cisgender European white male, I am conditioned by my cultural DNA to read myself into such glorious adventurer plotlines from the redeeming bravery angle. My heart too longs to be faithful to a mythical Motherland, Fatherland, Neverland, the crown-gospel of which I could vow to spread henceforth tooth and nail, near and far, for as long as I shall live, so help me God, etc. Fast-forward to 2015: this.still.works and it looks amazing! Amazing, I tell thee! Praise phase: the end.
Criticism phase. The clothes are damn perfect, so this is not a disgruntled complaint to the manufacturer. However, clothes are the Surface. The full story is wider, deeper, and more complex as the Ocean itself. My wtf is not for Nuno Gama. My problem is meta. My practical questions are rhetoric aimed at everyone-at-large. So let us capsize this fleet… The onset of my click-happy shopping frenzy initially got thwarted by all the religious insignia. The intricate Christian mosaics and adorned Crosses are not for me as a non-believer to embody and proselytize by default. Not my banner, sorry. Visual symbols are not easily separate-able from their historically implicit meanings. (See current confederate flag discourse in the USA). Can one wear revamped conquistador uniforms and claim anti-racist anti-colonial stance? The fêted seafaring included pillage, slaughter and slave trade. In the 21st century, is the buy-in wholesale? When I choose to look like an (awesome, impeccable, uber-chic) doppelganger of violent thieves ushering in an era of global injustice, do I perpetuate the Dis/Comfort of Power? Mayday! Can we seek out and cultivate alternative visions to re-define what is romantic, who is masculine, and which deeds are venerable?! S.O.S.
Now, the Mix-n-Matcher Conundrum. After all is said and done, can I still get the “safe stuff” like the purple velvet shorts with the sea monster long-sleeve jerseys and that omfg knit shoulder hoodie (to go with halfway-up sweater by Ricardo Andrez)? Prettyplease! #WhyNot #Unlikely #SoBeIt
Check out also Catarina Oliveira’s quiet battle-cry and curious wish-granting by Ricardo Andrez and colorful resistance of Dino Alves from Lisbon Fashion Week and follow Moda Lisboa on Instagram & Facebook