S24 PORTO: Inside the collection with búl designer Virginia Martin.

Why is Porto the inspiration behind this collection?

Porto (or Oporto) is a coastal city located in northwest Portugal. I have been lucky enough to have visited twice in my lifetime, the first being over a decade ago and the second more recently. Porto is a unique harbour city full of music, art, culture and design. Most visit Portugal and explore the capital, Lisbon, but Porto is the quietly confident neighbour being a bit slower and more underground which I enjoyed and appreciated. Little merchant houses are stacked on top of each other in all different colours and twisted cobblestone laneways lead to architecture covered in traditional Portuguese Azulejos (ceramic tiles). You feel frozen in time and it holds a beautiful authenticity. I thoroughly enjoyed exploring Porto and am excited to pay homage to this unique city through our spring-summer ’24 collection.

01. São Bento Station 02. Casa da Música 03. Manteigaria 
04. Torre dos Clérigos 05. Livraria Lello 06. Dom Luís Bridge 
07. Douro River

What story are you trying to tell?

An appreciation of the now. Porto is a place where time slowed. I wanted to encapsulate this feeling of being present and appreciative of the now through a celebration of colour, considered fabrications, functional elegance, and our signature ‘less but better’ approach through thoughtful Australian design.

What styles can we expect to see?

I was largely inspired by the local dressing in Porto. There was an understated elegance and an effortless ‘just thrown on’ ease. I interpreted this through silhouettes that focussed on airy, lightweight and flowy styles to hold a relaxed aesthetic for the day. I then explored more tailored pieces and refined shapes for our evening and occasionware. Tops tie and wrap for versatility with fun rib trims and soft textural finishes. Light cotton knits are layered in bright pops of colour. Bias-cut dresses in mini, midi and maxi lengths feature subtle details such as cut-out backs and pin-tuck seaming. Cropped pants, high-waisted shorts and maxi skirts match back to jackets, blazers and playful kimono-style robes. This season our footwear explores chunky tread soles with mixed neoprene and leather across mules, slides, clogs and the popular Ha Sandal in a new Porto colourway. We have also designed and developed a new range of leather hand and shoulder bags. There is a lot to explore.

How did you create the colour palette?

Porto was not hard to pull from with a city overflowing with colour. You will find strawberry pinks, apple greens and laranja (orange) marmalade reflecting the historical Bolhão market in the city centre. Lighter pastels reflect washed-up seaglass and shades of red muse the local Port Wine delicacy. There are also many variations of blue inspired by the Azulejos (ceramic tiles) which are found throughout the city featuring drawings of Portuguese navigators and their voyages around the world. Prints explore varieties of mixed check and stripe, alongside two in-house designs, ‘La Concha’ (the shell) reflecting the symbol of Camino, a travelled route by many and lastly ‘Vida Marinha’ (marine life) with illustrative sea creatures of Portugal. It is a very vibrant collection and most definitely a celebration of colour.

What fabrications can be found throughout S24?

Like previous collections, our use of natural fibres and considered blends holds a strong focus. Cotton is found in varying weights from lighter soft knit styles to crisper and more structured dresses, bottoms and outerwear. Linen has been used for its breathability and relaxed drape across summer suiting and matching separates. We’ve also worked with various blends of Viscose, Rayon, and Tencel, alongside a lovely Cupro for its soft and silk-like properties for more of our occasionware pieces.

While visiting Porto, what do you enjoy most? 

Having visited twice, there were a few places I always went back to. One of those was Livaria Lello, one of Portugal’s oldest bookstores. It’s a magical place with a grand wooden staircase, art nouveau designs and large stained glass windows. Climbing Clérgios Tower was also pretty memorable. After tackling the 200+ very narrow staircase to the top you are rewarded with panoramic views of the city. It was lovely to stand atop Porto and see the city from above. Of course, the food was delicious too. Lots of hearty sandwiches and rich stews, and indulging in way too many Portuguese Tarts. Listening to traditional ’Fado’ music was another highlight. This is a Portuguese music genre that you can find in many of the bars and the singer is often telling tales about the sea or hardships of life. There is a beautiful melancholy to it. Something I will never forget. 

And lastly, what is your favoured piece of the collection?

The Longe Dress (Portuguese: Far Away) in blue/white check is a new maxi-length style we’ve explored with a cutout detail in the back. It’s made in a super comfy seersucker fabrication with slight stretch making it a versatile piece to wear from the studio and into the weekend.