In a world where everything seems to move at breakneck speed, we often forget to stop and appreciate the beauty in the details. But for Joana Duarte, founder and designer of Béhen, it is precisely these details that inspired her FW23 collection titled “The God of Small Things”. From the sound of the wind rustling through the leaves to the sensation of bare feet in the sand, the collection is a celebration of the small moments that define our existence. It is a reminder that amidst the chaos and uncertainty of life, there is always beauty to be found—if only we take the time to look for it.
Exploring themes of love and vulnerability, Béhen—which means “sister” in Hindi—taps into the universal human experience that transcends time and culture. By blending traditional techniques and innovative technology, such as the use of coloured cork leather and grape leather, Joana brought to life the intricacies of the human condition and the raw emotions that make us who we are.
Captured by Jorge Barros, photograph prints stamped pieces from the collection, inviting us to appreciate the intimate moments immortalised in fabric. Like the photograph of a little girl chewing gum on a cream-white hoodie, or the image of a religious beach ceremony that fully covered a midi denim skirt, each piece had its own narrative with a nostalgic feel to it that left us wondering about the stories behind them—and perhaps reminiscing about our own. A photograph of an elderly Portuguese lady even featured on a calf-length boot with raw-cut edges, creating an exclusive piece that everyone was talking about as the model left the backstage for the line-up.
Joana’s attention to the small things is evident in the details that embellished each Béhen piece. Reviving traditional Portuguese techniques, floral motifs appeared in lace, embroidery, laser cut-outs, jacquards and silver-tone studs, with sculptured gold-tone brass flowers featuring as necklaces, earrings, micro-tops and a beautifully crafted flower tote bag. Adding a subtle touch of surrealism and appealing to the nourishing comfort found in a fresh loaf, the designer also had models walk down the runway holding mini bags called “Bola Cristallinos”, made out of bread dough by Europastry, with the help of Joana’s mother.
With a mix of lighter and heavier pieces, the collection featured different designs of faux fur-lined jackets paired with loose-fit trousers and different-length skirts. Working with materials such as linen, cotton, wool and sherpa, Béhen offered a more personal bias to casual wear, celebrating the delicacies of nature and human vulnerability in versatile pieces, leaving us excited for the fall again.
Edited by Michaela Doyle
View Béhen’s work and the complete collection at ModaLisboa.