Eduarda Abbondanza

Eduarda Abbondanza na sede da Moda Lisboa em Lisboa 05-02-2014 fotografia: Marisa Cardoso
Eduarda Abbondanza at Moda Lisboa’s headquarters, in Lisbon.
Photography: Marisa Cardoso

One look at Eduarda and you can feel the authority, the brilliance. This is the woman who revolutionized mentalities and style, who dared to go further than what was allowed at the time.

She graduated fashion and styling in 1984, was an intern for Ana Salazar’s atelier and, that same year, got together with Mário Matos Ribeiro to participate in the New Talents stand at Intermoda. Since then, the designer duo worked together and individually in fashion, cinema and theatre.

One could not look away from Eduarda and Mario’s creativity. In 1991, the Tourism department of Lisbon’s city councel invited them to organize the first edition of what is now one of the most famous and most important fashion events in Portugal, ModaLisboa – Lisbon’s fashion week.

When I met her, 9 years ago, Eduarda was almost like an athereal figure to me, simply too high above. Today, my admiration and respect have grown even more, I like her as you like one of your own. Because she welcomed me to the ModaLisboa’s family, and made it mine too.

This is the woman I want you to meet today. The history of Portugal’s first fashion event, which celebrates it’s 25th anniversary this year.

As a founder, how do you see the differences between the first and the latest edition of ModaLisboa? There are many of course, but the team spirit and enthusiasm, is it the same?

In 1990, me and Mário Matos Ribeiro were invited to organize a fashion event, ModaLisboa’s ground zero so to speak, an event that would mix industry, designers and stylists.

This was a turning point for fashion in Portugal. The textiles industry, strictly used for production, gave place to the fashion industry in all its glory, all its areas. Education, specialized journalism, photographers, models, makeup artists, hairstylists, productors, PR and so on, all this was basically unexistent when we started out.

I had a direct connection to this whole process through the creation of ModaLisboa, and also because I was part of Portugal’s first bachelor’s degree in Fashion.

In 25 years, many things have happened. The internal structure of the event has changed, and Portugal has also changed. 25 years ago, we were the only ones who would present the designer collections, portuguese and otherwise. We were the country’s first fashion week. Throught this entire process and story, there have been hiccups and difficulties, of course, but we’ve been finding the answers and solutions and moving forward, and that’s only possible due to the hard work of the teams I work with.

How do you see fashion’s evolution in Portugal, in the last 25 years? Are we in the right track?

25 years of ModaLisboa speak for 25 years of fashion in Portugal. I always think we could have done more, gone further, that the fashion industry in Portugal although well established could always grow more as well. But when I look back at these 25 years, it’s a swirl of memoreis and the evolution is clear.

What is your biggest pride, when it comes to ModaLisboa? Afterall, Eduarda is ModaLisboa. Do you feel proud of this daughter of yours?

I feel great pride in this project I helped create and continue to work on after all these years. I feel proud of the designers and brands ModaLisboa helped launch, throughout its history. I’m proud of all the projects we’ve done, not only the runway shows but also the exhibitions, the conferences, the contests, the young designer mentoring, the books, the international projects, the showrooms, the stores, everything! I think we itnroduced and educated the general audience to portuguese fashion, and it all adds up in the event’s history, Lisbon’s history and the fashion industry history in Portugal.

It’s years and years of love toward national fashion. What is your biggest desire or goal for the future?

I have many plans, I’m not one to slow down. ModaLisboa is, in itself, a design project. Our strategic goals include internationalization and developing areas of activity intrisically connected to modern challenges. If I’ve learned anything from these last 25 years is this: with hard work, anything can happen and all challenges can be conquered.

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