Lígia Carvalho Abreu and Jon Bagt (2016)

Photos: Rui Vasco/Moda Lisboa


My Process –Diary of a Collection by Dino Alves 

The great work which alchemists wished for was to obtain the Philosopher's Stone, to produce a panacea, and to discover a cure for all ills. In truth, they sought to withdraw the entire human horizon, the suffering, the pain and the anxiety of finitude. To turn lead into gold and shadows into eternal light were the goals set by alchemists.

Fashion creations are far from being imbued with such mystical and spiritual search. However, if we believe that the aspirations and metal transformations from those alchemists are linked to a methaphore of change in consciousness, then fashion can be much closer to alchemy than we think.

 In the use of their creative freedom, fashion designers are in a position to search for ways of some sort of human evolution and moulding which is naturally changeable. They can call on a change of consciouness by way of the transformation of fabrics and shapes, combined with the rearrangement of colours and techniques. 

Creation implies more cutting than stitching. The end of each collection is the beginning of a new process, a new demand…It can even start with a thrown away idea written on crumpled paper. For designer Dino Alves, this “is not always a lost idea. It is not an end in itself but a means of getting somewhere”.[i] In a designer’s world, those sketched primary ideas on crumpled papers “hide mistakes and troubled beginnings, an attempt then another and yet another until it results in an effective expression of what we want to communicate.”[ii]

My Process –Diary of a Collection composed by clothes with 3D elements, wrinkled effect through random pleats and irregular volumes that suggest those scratched, crumpled and erased primary ideas.  

In order to complete a master piece [the magnum opus] it is necessary to carry out the work well in black, then white and finally red. The subject is female. Nature is woman. All women transform. Ingmar Bergman, in the book “Cries and whispers" goes on a journey of transmutation, by choosing alchemical colours for décor: black, white and red. Only that the colours are aligned according to the narrative environment which was intended for the film.

My Process –Diary of a Collection

A woman, as a legatee of creation, does not follow chromatic order. Colours play a part in the existential moment of her condition. A woman can wear black for the rest of her life as never having left white or even reached red. Colours can either save a woman or lead her to destruction.

         Black is a sign of mourning in Jewish-Christian tradition, but white is the colour of grief in Muslim society. White and black are the colours of monotheistic religions; Jews, Christians and Muslims share the same colours, but they battle it out by various metaphysical interpretations. Monotheism is drawn to monochrome. The Eastern religions use colour. White and black colours lead to oranges, reds and yellows. The celebration of women and life itself is served in a polychromatic palette of Hinduism or Buddhism, for example. Polytheism is revealed in polychrome.

The Portuguese woman lives among the archetypes of the past and the dominant behaviour patterns of a consumer society. What often leads her to classically open her wardrobe and not know what to wear.

The elderly in black, the Gothic old ladies of the Portuguese collective imagination, never surpassed the dark phase of alchemy. Only instead of transmuting the piece of work to black, they left the colour black to overshadow any existential horizon.

Old Lady. Photo by Lígia Carvalho Abreu 

Shawls as a forcible standstill in time as not wanting it to slip away were the angel wings they used to not let go of anyone who no longer existed. A paradox which contradicts any transformation of matter.

Black clothing, while a powerful social symbol, has a double mirror: The impenetrable side of a soul without the healing and protective side of any social criticism.

         While travelling through the hills and deep mountains in Portugal we found that the elderly are endangered. Granddaughters emigrate and carry in their skin the polytheism of consumption. Clothing desacralises itself from its territory of identity and becomes a uniform, one which everyone searches for to find social validation. Jung, in his thesis, brilliantly explored the collective unconscious. Granddaughters mimic their grandparents as an indomitable irony of fate. What others say and think is more important than what distinguishes them from their neighbour. They are all caught up in the meshes of a social network which they assume they belong to.

In the “Hail Colour Collection” Dino Alves explores this dichotomy … another tearing down conservative paradigms.

Hail Colour Collection

The Collection was inspired on those old ladies of the Portuguese collective imagination, who dressed in black for the rest of their lives in honor of their late husbands, “as if this (lack of) color translated their social role and significance”.[iii] Wearing black can be a symbol of emotional solace. However, a perpetuated mourning has more of an imposed resignation, by popular judgment and religion, than of emotional solace.

The Hail Color Collection is “a mix of homage to these women who cannot escape from these imposing archaic values and a critic to those dictatorial values. By this homage, this collection shows that from this once acquiescent, closed, outdated and unambitious society another society of cheerful people arose and proved to be sophisticated, contemporary and willing to win”[iv].


Hail Colour Collection

 It is a call to use all colours and black “as a sign of elegance and sophistication and no longer as a symbol of pain and sin”[v].

It is up to each woman to choose which God to serve and what clothes to wear so as to cure all ills.

In his creations Dino Alves explores ways to deconstruct other conservative paradigms, those concerning a still deep-routed vision of what nobility means and the relationship between man and nature.    

The designer imagined “an upper class with family heritage and noble lineage that is governed by traditional values that often denounces some hypocrisy”.[vi]

New Kings Collection

Seams cut in forms of baroque decorative elements taken from palace interiors, ruffles, lavish laces, lacy collars and other details inspired by the royal guard clothing, recreated a “new social class, in which the material goods, palaces, pompous names, family, jewellery and crowns with precious stones find way to a new title of royalty, ruled by richness in character, nobility in attitudes and actions, solidarity with a great disadvantage: the value and integrity of human beings will make them New Kings”.[vii]

New Kings Collection

In other words, the respect of eachothers fundamental rights makes man noble.

And at last the Man and Nature!


Warning Collection

Ruffles which create flower arrangements, leaves, tulle tufts and graphic effects of danger and warning signs, call our attention to some behaviors towards nature that must be altered to protect it from present and future generations.

Dresses, blouses, skirts and trousers represent plants, trees and flowers which “start by appearing in their most splendid form and gradually languish, dry and rotten until some of them extinguish prematurely, leaving the next generations to remember them with sorrow”.[viii] 


Warning Collection

It is a ‘Warning’! And again tearing traditional paradigm, this time a break with the anthropocentric vision of the fundamental right to environment in which man dominates nature and nature is protected only because man needs it.

Instead, Dino Alves exalts an ecological vision of the fundamental right to environment, in which the environmental responsibility of each man is an ethical-social rule and also calls on, through signs of danger and messages of warning, solidarity among Men to respect the integrity of nature regardless its utility.

Nature has an autonomous dignity.[ix]

“We are alive and should be sensitive to something” says the designer.


[i] Dino Alves’ Press Release. Moda Lisboa. 

[ii] Ibid.

[iii] Ibid.

[iv] Ibid.

[v] Ibid.

[vi] Ibid.

[vii] Ibid.

[viii] Ibid.

[ix] Hans Jonas (1993). Le principe responsabilité – une éthique pour une civilisation technologique. CERF, pp. 188.