A Look at the Portuguese World


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The story of a dress

Written by  yvette vieira fts miguel nóbrega

The name Fernanda Nóbrega brings us to the memories of a past with splashes of modernity that arise in her collections in the form of fluid tissues with touches of Madeira's embroidery, who over decades has been on the catwalks around the country and abroad. As one of the pioneers of this concept of making fashion, this designer grabs us with her simplicity and warmth, to correct me and add, actually has been one of the first with Hugo Santos, also a designer that uses Madeira's embroidery in his creations.

How do you begin the process of creation?
Depends if it is inserted into the spirit of a collection, or if personal service. When it comes to a collection I've always intended to follow trends and there is also the influence of my personal taste. If you have a personalized service that take into account the client's taste, them their body and for what it is intended.

And the idea for the collection is part of the process to?
Sometimes an idea comes from nothing, I draw it down and follow it through, but ultimately you have to rationalize things and establish a pattern of reasoning, let you go and put the ideia on paper. The creative process turns out to be difficult to explain.

Which of the processes presents more challenges in terms of demand? The collection or personal service?
I like both. However, personalized service is arguably the most demanding, because of expectations. At weddings there is a greater pressure, because it involves the dream of the bride, is a defining moment in their lives and want it to be as special and idealized. And that goes for the dress, for that reason there is a greater stress and all this pressure creates a tension that makes everything more complicated. It is a process that needs a follow-up on my part.

In these moments of "tension", can you recalls some mishap in particular?
Yes, I do a standard test in the studio before the ceremony because it is a more structured dress and more just. Sometimes unexpectedly arises last minute problems . Her case was one of those times, the bride could only wear the dress after a third attempt, because every time i close the zip up it burst inexplicably. The third time was the charm. In any case, to my surprise she was calm, because as she told me that was almost three times without a priest. That is, the first clergyman it died, so did the second who was assigned to follow and only on the third attempt there was already a priest to marry her. Therefore, she said that everything was happening in her marriage in sets of three.

Have you ever had a blank, one of those times when you can't do nothing righ?
It happens with some frequency, sometimes there are bad days, there are occasions when it is harder to draw than others. And I do not feel like doing anything.

Which part of the creating process you like best? And the least?
I like the cut piece directly from the fabric, often i cut first before i've even drawn.
my least favorite part is the confection, the are some steps that I do and even appreciate, but overall no. And for this phase of the design, I have a team working with me.

And which is the most difficult piece to perform?
Any one, there are pieces that in terms of modeling are simple but can become complicated due to the type of fabric. The degree is the same. What is needed is to meet the characteristics of each piece to make it less unwieldy.

And the fabric?
It was the pigskin because of the difficulty in placing the embroidery, it is a material that looks like suede and it is a challenge since it is not easy to embroider.

How did this element became a design? It was a special request?
It was at the request of a bride, who was my model in several of my shows. There was this wedding dress, for a fashion show, that could be easily removed by himself, and had a whole interior, more comfortable and informal as to be worn by the bride, after church, in pigskin.
She liked the idea and told me that when she got married , that she would like two pieces made by me in this way. A more conservative dress to the formal ceremony, the other more casual had bangs and it was this type of leather. I notice your surprise, but contrary to what may seem, is very common to use this skin on items like bags and even coats.

Whem did Madeira's embroidery appeared on your creations?
It was right in my first collection of end of course. The show was on the Oporto Coliseum. Them for a period i decided not to use it, but after that I went back to used embroidery.

It was difficult to acceptance by potential customers and the general public?
Here in the Madeira has stages, there are periods when people ask me a lot, there are others where they say they are tired of it, they dont care anymore. What is a shame because Madeira embroidery has a unique characteristic. What I notice is a greater impact outside the island.

The Portugal Fashion was important in this process?
I made four editions of the PF and then there was the branded stores that sell clothes. And the feedback was positive, however, the team that organized this event has changed, the stores no longer exist and there are new people doing things, new values and of course i was replaced. However, thanks to this former PF workgroup with whom i maintain a collaboration in Portugal, I was able to attend a fashion event in Switzerland and Germany

And how was the reaction of foreign customers?
When I attended to the fashion show in Geneva and Berlin the dressses had a huge acceptance. But, i have a diverse clientele, the site helps you do that, I made dresses to Venezuela and have had orders to several countries in Europe.

How to overcome the difficulty of distance, for example?
I usually insert sizes and standard measurements on a dummy client base and always ends up being the same, then I make the submission. For the client of Venezuela, the dress was given to family members, they took the dress back with them.

The fact of living on an island some how limits your work?
No, but complicates. For example, the raw materials are more expensive due to shipping. The maintenance of equipment is another difficulty, i feel that becouse Madeira did not have a tradition of textile industry, there are problems to me regarding the replacement of parts in machines. It's all expensive and takes time to resolve.

After all these years of an already long career, has any plans to perform in the future?
Quite honestly? I'm in a introspectic phase and have no defined project.

And ever considered the internationalization of the brand?
That would mean a step higher than the leg, in my view. This is a decision that depends largely on personal initiative and I still have not given this step.


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