I know you have a passion for horses love to hear how it started, do you ride now?
My passion for horses started when I was 8 years old, when I had my first riding lessons at the Campo Grande Riding School, in Lisbon. I´ve had horses in my life ever since that first introduction. At the time, the Portuguese School of Equestrian Art was located in Campo Grande as well, and I used to watch their training their beautiful Lusitanos in the big arena. Since then I continued my riding taking lessons with several instructors, but it was only when I moved to the Azores that I had the chance to have my first horse. I achieved one of my childhood dreams. And only here, in a wonderful place where time doesn’t seem to pass, I could strengthen my relationship with horses, have the opportunity to enjoy them and to really understand what beautiful and simple creatures they are.
Your costumes are fabulously feminine, as I understand you have researched them through history and this has influenced your designs.
The traditional Portuguese riding costume has it’s main reference in the last decade of the XIXth century. The feminine riding outfit – Amazona riding costume – as is known today. However nowadays sadly the modern costume has lost some of its original characteristics, and has become very similar to the masculine outfit, this is largely due to the emancipation of women and the liberalization of social costumes.
The original Amazona’s costume from the Belle Époque, reflects the fashion from that period, and had a more romantic silhouette. The Amazona’s costume, had two different styles: the “true” Amazona riding costume, from the late XIXth century, as it is worn to ride with the Amazona side saddle, and the Amazona costume for riding astride, which is similar with exception from the pants and the skirt, worn after 1940.
Comment by Dr.Gorjão Clara
Dr. Gorjão Clara, author of “The Portuguese Riding Costume” explains, “The costume of the Amazona cannot be reduced to a single model only, Nevertheless, there are some common features that permit us to distinguish the Amazona’s costume from that of foreign horsewomen.”
As a fashion designer, Portuguese rider, and as a result of my research, I´ve revisited the Belle Époque fashion and introduced some more functional and contemporary elements, maintaining the sillouette, but more updated. As a result, the Amazona costume that I propose, has a more feminine and romantic look: there are two versions for the jacket, one longer and one shorter, corresponding, in general, to both styles of the Amazona costume; the chemise with a small collar is embellished with a little lace or embroidered cotton jabot, and the collar decorated with a satin bow; the pants design is more simple and modern, but maintaining the finish with the thightened cuffs; the skirt for riding astride is cut into bias and has a wider overlap. Instead of the vest, wich is a garment from the male costume, I decided to introduce the underbust corset, as it is a characteristic lady’s garment and brings elegance and a bit of audacity to the costume, as well as providing a back support which enhances the riding posture.
Traditional jewellery should be worn as well – the typical filigree earrings in gold or silver are more suitable. The hat is also important, since a lady doesn’t ride with a bare head. The traditional feminine hat has two pompoms on the side, in silk or wool.
The lace you are using on the blouses in hand made from the Azores it really adds a special style to the costumes.
Laces and embroideries are a traditional typology of the Azorean handicrafts. It’s typical modern use is mostly in home textiles (such as towels and sheets, table centers and a series of lace inserts on linen and cotton) although we can find some older pieces in fashionable accessories, such as gloves and collars.
I was recently invited by the Regional Centre for Handicrafts of the Azores to design a ready-to-wear collection using the traditional handmade laces. Applying these handmade laces in the riding costumes, as well as the beautiful embroideries, is a way to add value and glamour to the already beautiful Portuguese riding costume, making it special and different, and also a way to disclose and promote the work of the fine Azorean handicrafters.
I am inspired everyday by antiques, films and TV series, music, photography, art, nature. My family and friends and of course riding my horse.
Silvia we are so delighted to be working with you and thoroughly looking forward to developing additions items with you.
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Images of Silvia´s work by Lena Saugen Photography and Hugo Duarte.