Interview with Mónica Gonçalves
Cork knit gives rise to clothing
GRIGI is the name of the company created by the Portuguese fashion designer, Mónica Gonçalves. Its aim is the study and experimentation of local and natural materials for their implementation in different areas, including fashion. The word GRIGI arises from a play on syllables and from the Italian word grigio (meaning grey), with the symbolism of an internal force that supports external evils. “GRIGI is my dream that took root against a backdrop of crisis and demoralisation,” explained the designer. The cork knit is her major triumph. She was a pioneer in its use and has already received national and international awards for its use. “The passion for cork was born when I began to realise the great potential of this material. It was a whole new world to explore!”, revealed Mónica Gonçalves.
GRIGI was born with this knit, from the intersection between the values of tradition, ecology and sustainability and the desire to bring design to cork and take cork to a plural place closer to the consumer, through clothing.
“I started by experimenting at home, and I saw right away that it was a material that collaborated and somehow “spoke”. It is very easy to handle and work, but when something does not work cork immediately shows that it is not feasible to proceed with the idea,” explains the designer.
“All designers have a gift. My identity comes to the fore through the experimental – mutation, another face of utility items and dual functionality, the new and the different,” states Mónica Gonçalves.
The designer has developed three collections using cork fabric. Most recently, she supported the development of Little GRIGI, in partnership with Vera Gonçalves and Joana Branco. “One day they proposed at a meeting to create a brand that portrayed GRIGI but in a child’s version! I loved the idea, and right after Little GRIGI was born I went to Paris with the SS15 collection of GRIGI, and the feedback was excellent! “said Mónica Gonçalves. She concludes: “the fashion designers realised that there was nothing in the children’s market in cork, and since they really appreciated the cork knit they decided to innovate and create a new approach to the market.”
Born in Lisbon in 1989. The arts were a passion from a very early age, but fashion more so than the others. She attended the Fashion Design course of CIVEC, current MODATEX, in Lisbon between 2008 and 2012.
She competed in several Fashion Design contests, winning prizes in Portugal and throughout the world. These included first place in the Euroskills European Championship in 2010, and first place in the EcoFriendly competition of Portugal Fashion, in 2012, where she entered the cork knit. She was subsequently invited to develop an exclusive collection for the Cork & Co. brand.
Her professional career began in 2009 with professional placements in Isilda Pelicano, Dinis & Cruz, and Ana Salazar, completed with excellence and merit.
First place in the European Championships earned her a scholarship that took her to Italy to work in the prestigious Barena. The principles of that school influence and inspire the designer.
She created Grigi in 2013, with the main objective of studying and exploring local and natural materials. Grigi aims to enhance national capabilities and techniques.