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  • Writer's picture@ Cynthia Adina Kirkwood

Fátima Lopes’ New Designs Strut Lisbon Catwalk

Fátima Lopes, third from left, with runway models (Photo from her Facebook page)


She wowed Paris with her show-stopping gold and diamond bikini, which she modeled herself, in 2000.


This month, Portuguese designer Fátima Lopes unveiled more surprises with her spring-summer collection at the World Trade Center in Carnaxide, Greater Lisbon.


As her male and female models in pinks, reds, sky blues, blacks and whites held the gaze of the standing audience, the craftswoman, whose career spans more than 30 years, told SIC Notícias (May 5) that her new collection featured something for everyone, and for occasions from casual to sophisticated. Many of her pieces featured fine-tailored tucks, folds in the fabric that are sewn into place.

“Every six months, fashion starts from scratch. The collection becomes obsolete, goes on sale, and we make a new collection, which always has to be better than the last one,” she said, in a video interview, Fátima Lopes: A Proud Portuguese Designer, The Untold Stories (April 3, 2020.)


Born on the island of Madeira, Fátima Lopes left Funchal at 23 for Lisbon in 1988, predating Portugal Fashion and Lisboa Fashion Week. The dynamo paved a way for herself with an idea of opening a concept store. Two years later, she opened Versus, where she sold clothes and accessories from international designers.


"I started with an idea of products that didn't exist in Portugal. I'm talking about clothes, shoes, jewelry. All you could imagine, Versus had. For this to happen, every month I traveled: buying, bringing, selling. It was two spectacular years before two brands invited me to design collections for them because, at the same time, I'd draw clothes for myself and just wear my clothes.


“Suddenly, two foreigners, a Frenchman and an Englishman, invited me to draw for them. I did a tryout for Gossip Clothing in London and the other Cop. Copine. These were brands I was selling at the time. The brands were always asking me, "Where did you buy it?” And I would answer, “It's mine.” And they started liking it. 


“I did a tryout. I did a 20-piece test that I called Versus. I didn't have the courage to put my name on it. It was a success. From then on, I never bought a piece of clothing again.


“In 1992, Fátima Lopes was born. I did my first fashion show in October 1992 at Convento de Beato (in Lisbon Municipality).”


In 1994, the entrepreneur began presenting her collections at commercial fashion fairs in Paris. Later, she became part of the national fashion event, Portugal Fashion. In 1996, she opened her first international store in Paris. In 1999, she became the first Portuguese designer to be part of Paris Fashion Week, where she has been a mainstay.

In 2000, in Paris, Fátima Lopes caused a media sensation by appearing on the catwalk herself wearing her gold and diamond bikini, said to be valued at 1 million dollars.


Fátima Lopes’ bikini was made with 60 diamonds of one carat each and 18-carat gold wire, according to Bridgeman Images (October 28, 2000). (Photo from Fátima Lopes’ Facebook page)


“I’ve always been a little bit different, never too afraid to take a risk. I like challenges. I’m not afraid of hardships. The end result always gives me much joy because it’s the result of my work from A to Z,” she said in Fátima Lopes: A Proud Portuguese Designer.


To celebrate 30 years in the fashion industry, Fátima Lopes transformed her gold- and diamond-bikini concept into a dress in 2022, according to Versa (September 28, 2022). 


At the beginning of her career, the inspirations of the 59-year-old stylist were two: Jean Paul Gaultier (b.1952 France), known for his unconventional designs (corsets, the horizontal blue- and white-striped mariniéres, and tin cans used as fragrance packaging), and Vivienne Westwood (b. 1941 England - 2022), who brought punk and New Wave fashion into the mainstream.


“Throughout my career, there was only one other person whom I considered a genius, who has passed away: Alexander McQueen. I was shocked because he killed himself. I thought that he was the genius of the century.”


Alexander McQueen (1969-2010) was known for sharp tailoring, historicism and imaginative designs that often verged into the controversial. He explored themes such as romanticism, sexuality and death. Among his best-known designs are the low-rise bumster trouser, the skull scarf and the stilleto-platform armadillo shoe, named for its unusual convex curved shape said to resemble the animal. The British designer’s legacy in fashion and culture is extensive.


“From then on, I respect everyone. I respect all creators when they have an identity of their own. It makes sense that we’re all different. There’s room for everyone.


“In Portugal, we have many designers,” said the 2006 recipient of the rank of Commander of the Order of Infante Dom Henrique by President Jorge Sampaio for services rendered in the dissemination of Portuguese culture across borders.

“It’s a shame there’s not a mindset in the country about the value of creation. The added value of the brand should be understood in Portugal in a different way which, unfortunately, it is not. The industry in Portugal is satisfied with being a producer of the major international brands.


“They have no notion that if they added design, if they added creativity, they also could add a brand. Suddenly, our country could have another image internationally.

"I am waiting for the day when creators, entrepreneurs, investor and industrialists all join hands, and we will create a country with a fashion identity.”



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