“Where the Women Carry Fish on Their Heads”

As an infrequent contributor to the VQR blog and a current world correspondent based in sunny Portugal, I feel compelled to comment on the New York Times’ recent story about Lisbon’s emergent arts scene. When I moved to Cascais for the summer, I had no idea that I was riding a tidal wave of cultural endeavor, but here I am, thirty minutes outside of the hippest place on earth.

The Times article examines Lisbon’s fashion renaissance through the lens of Storytailors, a design house devoted to unique, fairy tale creations.

Opened in 2007 by the young design duo João Branco and Luis Sanchez, Storytailors isn’t so much a retail outlet as a cabinet of wonders where the ghosts of Lewis Carroll and the Brothers Grimm haunt the racks.

In an interview featured on the atelier’s website, the designers say their clothes enable clients to “wear their own imaginations.” They are interested in the “non-childish” aspects of traditional childrens’ literature. They want to manifest myths, tales, and “the imaginary” on the human form. Their work was originally inspired by a poem entitled “Datilografia” by Fernando Pessoa, which explores the poet’s relationship with his childhood dreams.

Granted, I am a sartorial skeptic, confused by all things shiny and expensive, but I like the idea of translating literature and language into something you can wear down the street. Storytailors’ seasonal collections have names like “Cheated Child” and “Enchanted Forest.” Their “EUphyra: words of a medusa that wanted to fly” collection is divided into chapters I and II.

Surrounded by such inspiration, it’s not impossible that I’ll return to Virginia outfitted as the “Queen of Roses.” But whatever I come home wearing, it will certainly be a far cry from the martial style of Salazar or from that cumbersome hat made out of fish.

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Published: July 13, 2008