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Talent Emerging: Senhor Prudencio

Hailing from a coastal village in Portugal, Senhor PRUDÊNCIO is the brainchild of João Pedro Filipe – a designer with conceptual flair and ability to create considered yet beautiful designs. The men’s footwear and accessories label debuted at LFW SS13, presenting Filipe’s offerings of exceptionally crafted, leather shoes for the modern man of all ages. Inspired by the traditional shoe making and heritage of his native Portugal, Filipe uses the past and future to create designs with longevity as well practicality. What I admire most is his desire to use what he has learnt whilst studying in Paris and apply to the wider aspects of his business. Filipe’s USP resides in crafting exceptional finesse for the man who appreciates fine details and quality across a range of shoes, bags and small leather goods. Constantly seeking a narrative and exploring aesthetics, I caught up with Filipe to find out how he used his rich cultural heritage and injected it into a very modern label.

Planet Notion: Hey João, great to meet you! Tell a bit about yourself and how you got into designing?
João Pedro Filipe:
I was born in a small village on the coast of Portugal; I always felt the need to work and build objects with my hands and loved to see people making artisanal goods. I think I just became really interested in thinking about a product and see it executed and making it available for other people use. Fashion is also about creating an image and I wanted to be able to do that as well – so I came to Porto to study fashion design in CITEX.

PN: What was it like growing up in Portugal?
It was good growing up here. Portugal it’s a beautiful place; calm and quite free at that time for young people. It’s harder when you want to start work seriously and you get conscious how much you need to do to break high fashion.

PN: How did you find studying in Paris? Was it very different to life at home?
I loved working there. At the time I was looking for a good school that could help me develop and experiment with different creative processes – that also had a really strong relation with industry, not just the creative part.

IFM in Paris was the school that had the most interesting program focusing on my goals. In the beginning it was hard being a student in Paris, the course was very irksome but it was really awesome to live there for two years and get in touch with the international fashion reality. Paris is not new but you can learn a lot there; you can see and be part of so many different things that you don’t have to settle in a city like Porto.

SRPR 06PN: So how did this lead to a footwear label?
I like to create products and images, my fashion background help me a lot to do so and in the end a footwear and accessories brand can also be a fashion/design brand. In fashion now a lot of the studies are focused on creative direction and management. I think it helped me a lot translating my universe into actual product as well.

PN: Did your studies help you start your own label?
Sure, the first time I realised I wanted to make shoes was at IFM. Senhor PRUDÊNCIO is an evolution of a project that I started in Paris during my studies.

SRPR 03PN: I read that your work is inspired by your grandfather’s style and the fifties…
My grandfather was a shoemaker. I don’t think it has influenced me in my way of work but definitely in my aesthetic. I love to study classical shapes and products and I am very interested in Portuguese traditional craft techniques, they all make attempt new ways of doing and constructing things.

PN: What is senhor PRUDÊNCIO’s aesthetic?
Senhor PRUDÊNCIO is all about myself as a designer. The brand aims to design timeless products that resist seasons. A lot of the work is handmade and the ranges of the styles are quite classical. But the brand is a brand for the now. There is also ongoing research for contemporary design and desired products for today’s use.

PN: The modern man changes his wardrobe so often; who are you designing for?
I design for an urban and mature man who sees these products as something he wants to buy to stand the test of time – a new kind of man that doesn’t compromise looking good with age. I’m focused on independent and strong men, interested in new creative energies and inspired by what is going on in fashion, music, architecture, photography, dance…

Basically, he uses bicycles as their transportation and lives mainly in northern Europe.

PN: How much support do you feel there is available from the fashion industry for emerging designers?
I think it really depends from country to country. In Portugal there are some projects such as the fashion weeks to expose young fashion designers but there is no support to help you build a brand, not just with money but also in other ways. In my case I had the chance to have the support of a program from Guimarães 2012 European Capital of Culture through Plataforma de Moda. This was a special program that happened in the same year I had decided to launch senhor PRUDÊNCIO. In shoes we have as well APICCAPS, an industrial association that help us with communication. But a lot needs to be done; we still don’t have a designer’s association or a fashion council. As a designer, my studio works for bigger brands to be able to invest in senhor PRUDÊNCIO in its first steps.

SRPR 05PN: Tell us a bit about what inspired your AW14 collection and how you chose to present it?
My research for AW14 started with the Portuguese futuristic Manifesto Anti-Dantas from the artist Almada Negreiros and other futuristic manifestos from Europe. Then I started looking at similar issues in the present – I tried to project them in the next 100 years and imagined if the idea of futurism would be the same and what values of shoe design would stand longevity. So the collection is a senhor PRUDÊNCIO point of view of the future. This season we did a lookbook and presented in CAPSULE, New York and Jacket Required in London.

PN: That sounds intense! What is your design process like?
I love shoes and leather goods because they easily form a structured shape. For me the 3D vision is really important. I normally design the shoes in a Last and make kind of a model/mockup of them with paper, scotch-tape and glue. I also do collages of details and image manipulation to achieve shapes and after this I normally need another process to clean it up and solve technical issues.

SRPR 09PN: What do you want the label to achieve?
I want my shoes to be stocked in a bunch of impeccable stores. I want to continue having fun doing it and collaborating with other people and I want to see more and more people wearing them!

PN: And in the future?
For now I am focusing on building an identity – a strong and unique image. Soon we will be able to announce some nice collabs that we are preparing.

PN: What has been the highlight of your career so far?
There are a lot of professional and personal achievements from the beginning of my career until now, but of course being able to work on a more personal brand and launch it during London fashion week was definitely one. And working with brands such as Preen or Thakoon Addition are others!

Visit senhor PRUDÊNCIO online, Facebook and Twitter.

- Hardeep Gill

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