CovetED’s Exclusive Interview With Fashion Designer Carlos Gil ⇒ What do architecture and Fashion design have in common? According to the renowned Portuguese Fashion Designer Carlos Gil, everything. But let’s start from the beginning. For those who’ve never heard of him, Carlos Gil is one of the most prominent names in the Fashion Industry. His designs are incredibly appreciated amongst his audience, currently scattered around the Middle East, Asia and America. We had the chance to meet with the Portuguese fashion icon during the F/W 2018-19 edition of Portugal Fashion, in Porto, and to pick a little bit from his brain. by Didia Sousa
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Carlos describes himself as a rather simple, inconspicuous and humble man. He lives through happiness and he strives to be happy. Never caring for the social paradigms or establishments, the creator believes in focusing on what really matters, his work. ‘’It’s never my goal to care for any social standards or to waste my energy in fruitless things. On the contrary, I always try to live my life to the fullest, and to appreciate every single happy moment like it’s my last one,’’ said Carlos.
As we walked through his career, Carlos told us that the that the most frightening moment was to leave his job as a design teacher in high school to pursue his dream. ‘’My wife played an uber-important role in this part, as she told ‘your talent is way above of a simple teaching job, you have the talent of a fashion designer, which is why you took your degree. We’re opening an atelier’ she told me, and It was a tremendous risk.’’
The fact that Carlos and his wife decided to open an atelier, in Fundão, showed how hard he and his wife believed in his talent. Fundão, for those who’ve never heard of such place, is a small town lost in the lavishing rural side of Portugal. And, as he stated, to start a business in Portugal’s countryside is incredibly difficult. ‘’That was probably the biggest risk I’ve ever taken. To accept the challenge’’
Despite being the successful designer he is, Carlos’ biggest concern now is to establish a connection between Carlos Gil, the Portuguese Designer, and Carlos Gil, the International Designer. He admits it’s something risky, for a Portuguese designer to go out in one of the most ravishing industries in the world. With his wife constant encouragement, and his enormous talent. Carlos Gil became a constant in Trend Books all over the World.
‘’Ever since I’ve been invited by the National Chamber of the Italian Fashion, I fell nothing but love and support. We used to come out in five-six fashion magazines per year, but this year alone we’ve come out in 16, which means that we’re getting the international stability we sought’’
As Carlos previously told us, to open a fashion business in Portugal’s countryside is a tremendous risk, especially 20 years ago. But, even though the challenges he faced, he feels that, like the rest of the most developed Portuguese areas, the countryside has developed slowly, but steady. It gives him tremendous pleasure and peace of mind to work in his hometown. ‘’What I feel, when working in Fundão, is nothing but peace of mind’’
Even though his major buyers are hours of flight away (Middle East, America and Asia), nothing makes the designer happier than working from his hometown. However, his life goes way beyond the picturesque countryside town. All of his commercial department is in Lisbon, the city of perpetual light. Lisbon is a huge economic harbour, as most of Portugal’s most influential businesses are headquartered in there. He claims to be a man of the world, per say, thus, like most major fashion powerhouses, he’s in constant travelling. For him, travelling is more than just business. For Carlos, every trip he makes is a golden opportunity to learn something new, to get in touch with different cultures and, of course, to study the trends that his costumers follow.
‘’Perhaps, the only luxury in life is to travel. I love to travel because we get to know new things, we get in touch with new cultures, new ideas.’’ One of the designer’s biggest passions is architecture. As a matter of fact, he feels like an architect himself. An architect of fashion. An architect that, instead of changing a city’s landscape, he empowers women with his one-of-a-kind designs. As such, Carlos has been currently working alongside Gavinhos Architecture and Interiors, a Lisbon-based studio, Topázio, a well-known Portuguese goldsmithery and Covet House for a concept store in Portugal’s capital.
‘’It’s the merging of several architectures in one big heart, one through which an immense blood river will flow’’. Throughout his award-winning career, Carlos highlights one he deeply cherishes. On June 10th, 2015, the designer was awarded the Grand Cross of the Henry the Navigator Order, Portugal’s highest honour. It was more than an award. It was the recognizing of Carlos’ work, of the way he brought the spotlight back to Portuguese design. He feels an enormous responsibility when he presents his collections outside Portugal, but, alongside the responsibility, comes a tremendous joy, one that he can’t hide.
‘’It’s like a Herculean task, to represent a country. And it’s not just me, it’s a big amount of people that work incredibly hard to elevate my work, which is always presented in a soulful yet proud and wise way.’’ Whenever he presents in Milan, he feels he’s under the world’s spotlight. Milan’s one of the biggest and most important fashion weeks in the world. The first times he presented, he wasn’t today’s Carlos Gil. He was just another foreigner trying to make it in Milan. A status that soon changed once the audience gazed at Carlos’ designs. He felt huge support from the audience and all the love that Milan had to give. To present alongside Gucci, Dolce and Gabbana or Prada was nothing but a dream. Now, that’s the reality he lives every year.
‘’It’s a unique feeling. To be next to Prada, Gucci, Dolce and Gabbana is something truly amazing.’’ For him, a runway show has nothing to do with another. To present in Lisbon and to present in Milan is completely different. Whenever he presents in Lisbon, he feels at home, an inexplicable joy, as he’s received by his fellow countrymen. As for Milan, the joy he feels is a joy of acceptation, the joy of integration.
‘’A runway show has nothing to do with another, they’re very distinct worlds.’’ As for his inspirations, Carlos keeps it simple. He designs what the brand represents, a strong connection with strong women. He tries to know his clients and to see what drives them. And for him, there’s no better source of inspiration than today’s woman. A woman that, at the same time can be a mother, have a successful career and time to go out and have fun with her friends. That’s how the Designers sees today’s all-mighty woman, and his designs prove it. His brands’ motto is 24 Hours, as a tribute to his clients.
‘’Nowadays, we have to acknowledge how powerful women are. She’s a mother, she has a family, a career, but she never forgets about herself. That’s what I truly admire about them. They always have something special in their closet or car that allows them to leave their work and go to a cocktail party, like a sequins bomber jacket’’.
To produce and present a collection every six months is extremely expensive. In the designer’s mind, most people don’t realize it. All the commotion surrounding a runway show, the photographers, the journalists, the choreographers, the hairdressers, the brand’s accounters, all of them have to work side by side so the show can go on as planned.
‘’It’s easier to say bad things than good ones. I always compliment my colleagues’ work and how fast they can get it done. It doesn’t matter if I personally don’t like a creator’s design, but I make sure I encourage them to keep going.’’ The Portuguese Designer is a huge fan of architecture. Since a very young age, he developed an interest in all sorts of architecture, fitting fashion design in amongst them. Last year’s collection was inspired not only by urban architecture but by nature’s architecture as well. In his mind, people look for well-being, class and refinement, and that’s where the talented Portuguese will continue aiming.
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Image Source: Portugal Fashion