Portfolio of Kimberly Johans

A collection of articles created during my stint as a journalist at The Macau Daily Times

Finding the hidden potential in Macau

Posted by Kimberly on August 18, 2007

By Kimberly Johans
Published in The Macau Daily Times
August 18, 2007, page 18 (1,090 words)


You can put several labels on a man like Paulo senna Fernandes: Civil servant. Part time award-winning designer for the past eight years. The person who came up with the concept for the recent Macau Apparel Week. Yet despite this, the event’s name was changed from his original title of Macau Fashion Week with no recognition of his idea, according to the designer. Still, Paulo seems to have taken the bad news quite well.
“In 2005, I made a recommendation to do a Macau Fashion Week but to this moment I haven’t received a reply.
“They changed the name to Macau Apparel Week. I’m happy that they have used my ideas but it’s unfortunate that they didn’t contact me,” he says.
As the founder of the Macau Fashion Association, operating since 2003, Paulo has seen a lot of changes in Macau with culture and tourism. And he’s positive he can contribute, given the chance.
“I’m expecting that in the coming years there will be a lot of upcoming events other than the events organised by the tourism department in Macau.
“My association is also able to organise lots of events, fashion and cultural,” he says.
The Association, whose aim is to “group designers in Macau so as to promote fashion and culture and also to see fashion flourish here,” currently has about 50 members who are charged a fee to join. It consists of Macau’s most creative including hair stylists, artists ad graphic designers.
It is Paulo’s belief that “the members of the association are people with talent who can help develop certain activities that can help promote either tourism or culture in Macau.”
In his opinion, “a lot of people in Macau have potential but most of the time they are hidden.
“I hope that the government will support in every way, whether it be the people of Macau with hidden potential or whether it be associations,” he says.
And he should know, being the only fashion designer in Macau to have won six international awards over the past six years, “which I’m very grateful for,” he adds.
The awards range from the Dalian Cup in Dalian during 2001 to silver prize at the “China Cup” International Women’s Wear design contest in Shanghai in 2003.
Most recently, he’s been granted membership of PATA (Pacific Asia Travel Association), something he considers “an honour.”
“This is the first Association in Macau to become a member apart from the government tourism department,” he says.
His most recent design foray has been in collaboration with the Bank of China to design their uniforms for this summer, which they happen to be wearing at the moment, as well as the IACM and the Central Library and it’s a business he’s adding to.
In 2008, the association will be assisting The English Lab, a centre educating residents on English language usage, to design a set of clothing for about 420 children participating in the soon-to-come Helen O’Grady Drama Program.
“Since there are also plans that these children will be on a touring drama to Singapore in August 2008, I will also be there to assist in any design during the performances,” he adds.
Paulo’s philosophy is that fashion needn’t be just about clothing and accessories. It can be “ideas that can connect to modern trends. It’s like a connection with the modern world,” he says.
It’s part of a very large proposal put forward to the government in 2005, which outlines his ideals for a fashion-conscious Macau.
“For example, people used to say ‘it’s a trend to have Formula 3 in Macau’ but in my idea, fashion can mean something, the bringing in of other things, like Formula 1,” he says.
He clarifies that while Macau’s current circuit may not be big enough for Formula 1, changes to the circuit could certainly attract a race of that magnitude.
“The Grand Prix Association should consider using the newly reclaimed NAPE area for the new circuit in order to tie in with the new development in the area,” he writes.
Hardly fashion but certainly fashionable, some might say.
For Paulo, being a fashion designer seems a natural shift from his previous endeavours, allowing him space for creativity and expression .
“Ever since I was young I’ve always been happy to do things that other never do.
“I would always choose to do things that would challenge me,” he recalls adding that his role prior to being a designer was as a cartoonist.
Yet soon after holding his first and last exhibition, he decided to venture down the path of sport, becoming an international hockey coach. It’s still something the partakes in today.
“But it’s not enough so I shifted to become a fashion designer, just to challenge myself. I don’t like to stop. I’m always in the mood to learn,” he says.
And that learning curve has been rather steep as, since founding the Association he has been invited to show his collection in Singapore, New York and most recently, Bangkok.
Of Singapore he says, “I wanted people outside to know that Macau can come up with fashion designers and events.
“People in Singapore would say ‘what? Are there fashion designers in Macau? I thought there were only casinos!’
“I told them there are actually a lot of fashion designers in Macau and I’m only the first to go over to Singapore but later others will come,” he says.
New York didn’t quite happen due to a lack of sponsorship but the circumstances leading to the offer were worth mentioning, according to Paulo.
Having donated an amount of funds to an association in Darfur, Paulo was contacted by an organisation in New York called ‘designers for Darfur’ which consisted of world famous designers such as Michael Kors, Vera Wang and Tommy Hilfiger, to show his collection in March this year.
Despite not being able to attend, his collection went in his stead, to represent Macau.
Bangkok is going to be a team collaboration with several members of the Association heading over.
“We’ve already been invited this month but we couldn’t make it so hopefully next year,” says Paulo.
More close to home perhaps, is the opportunity for some of the designers to travel to Beijing in November for their fashion week.
“It’s to allow the designers to experience the trend of fashion in China and not just limit themselves to Macau,” says Paulo.
As for his plans for the future, it involves a publishing collaboration between fashion and Macau’s heritage, surely a winning formula in anyone’s book.


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