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The young Portuguese designer designs a first committed collection that makes them one of the finalists of the Hyères Festival 2023 at Villa Noailles. Focus on a talent to follow.

© Tiago Bessa

“Hermaphrodite” is the name of Tiago Bessa’s graduation collection that explores the concepts of gender and inclusion.

A critical and personal exercise on the social construction and pressure of a binary world. This former Modatex graduate from Porto, who spent an internship at Viktor & Rolf, selected materials in reference to their origins in Guimarães, a region still very conservative, located in the north of Portugal. Fabrics in the line of ceremonial clothing, while introducing latex.

© Tiago Bessa
© Tiago Bessa

Through the pieces, the young designer affirms their identity, opening new paths for young generations in their difference. Hermaphrodite is a term with which I have been linked for a long time. Growing up, people used it to make fun of my non-binary appearance, so it was all about directing my anger in a productive direction,” they said after the announcement of their appointment.

“In this collection, I decided to explore more intersex people [the impossibility of being classified as male or female] and, therefore, to become familiar with the non-consensual surgery that intersex minors undergo. Hermaphrodite takes a stand against this act of genital mutilation.”

Bold creations

© Tiago Bessa

Using the orchid as a source of inspiration and metaphor for sexual organs, Tiago Bessa presents “deconstructed versions of ideally perfect pieces.”

A way to comment on the damage caused by corrective procedures on already valid and beautiful bodies. The abstract forms are thus anatomical, with translucent gimp costumes and flesh-colored corseted dresses, designed with triangular fabric panels that overlap like the petals of an orchid.

Like a hermaphrodite flower. This collection also tells the family story of Tiago Bessa, in homage to the time spent in the workshop of their model-maker mother and seamstress grandmother where they made their first steps in the world of fashion.

© Tiago Bessa

“Their technique is very… traditional,” they said, “they know how to shape and sew according to the rules and my work is a deconstruction. It was important for me to know how to sew and model and then get where I wanted to go.” This first creation earned them the ModaPortugal fashion design competition in 2021. Today, they are among the ten finalists in the prestigious Hyères fashion, photography and accessories festival, which will take place in October.

Hyères – France

Nathalie Dassa