Dina Simão

«Infelizmente ainda somos preconceituosos em relação à nossa cultura»

\\ Texto João Afonso Ribeiro
\\ Fotografia Daniel Camacho

Estilista, apresentadora de televisão e mulher dos mil ofícios. Dina Simão nasceu em Angola, mas foi em Portugal que cresceu, formou-se e onde começou uma carreira que hoje lhe dá reconhecimento internacional. Teve o primeiro contacto com as linhas e as agulhas aos 14 anos, em Setúbal, e desde aí ficou entregue a uma paixão que nunca mais a largou. Entretanto, nos 30 anos que viveu em Portugal, Dina Simão licenciou-se duas vezes (Relações Internacionais e Recursos Humanos), tornou-se uma referência a nível das danças africanas no país, fez tournées internacionais, trabalhou com o afamado Bonga, foi funcionária pública e secretária nas Nações Unidas. Mais tarde, em 2008, aproveitou uma oportunidade que surgiu através da delegação angolana presente na Expo Saragoça para voltar ao país que a viu nascer, numa altura em que as suas criações já desfilavam nas passarelas do London Fashion Week. A partir daí, foi convidada para o encerramento do Angola Fashion Week, em 2009, e estabeleceu-se no país que a viu nascer. Em Angola, Dina tornou-se apresentadora de televisão, sem nunca deixar de continuar a dar cartas no mundo da moda, cujo conhecimento e experiência deram o mote para que abrisse a academia Arte e Fashion, onde ensina os segredos da moda a jovens angolanos, na esperança de que sigam as suas já bem delineadas pisadas.    

How would you define yourself as a presenter?

I?m the one that appears on television every day. I?m the woman with a great programme that  I wouldn?t change for the world. I have a rich programme, which focuses on fashion, health, cooking, culture, or in other words, it covers everything. I took a course in journalism, to adapt myself to this presenting career and, in a few years, I have already won two awards as the best television presenter in Angola, which is a real pleasure for me and leaves me greatly flattered.


Do you identify yourself more with fashion or with television?

They are entirely different projects, but they are different pleasures that complement each other. For example, in my programme I wear Dina Simão Fashion, or in other words, I market my own brand on my own programme. At the end of the day, I am an example in terms of fashion and I find it opportune to bring these two areas together. Of course, now and again I wear clothes from other boutiques, but as a general rule I wear Dina Simão Fashion.


Where does your inspiration come from?

It comes from all over the place. I am a woman of the world and a woman who has travelled a great deal, who has dealt with a large variety of cultures. My past is a huge inspiration for my present and for my future. My style cannot be 100% African, not least because I lived in Lisbon for 30 years, but I can say that I seek out a little of everything. I want to have the freedom to dive into my creativity and to fly, right up to the sky.


Do you consider yourself an African fashion designer?

Africa has turned fashion around. I was in Lisbon not long ago and I noticed that that the city breathes Africa at every turn. But when will we, we Africans, start to accept our African heritage? When the West has started to accept it, because unfortunately we are still prejudiced with relation to our culture. We have to know how to value what is ours. We only accept when others say it is good, even though they often copy our things. We, African fashion designers, have the challenge of valuing what is ours and showing it to the world, because only then will our creations truly reach the highest of levels.


You set up the Arte e Fashion academy. What do you intend to promote with this?

This is a space which has long been a dream. With 25 years of fashion, I have won 15 awards, 11 of which are international. And, basically, I want to drive the awards forward. Now that I?m getting a bit older, I felt that the best way to push through my 15 awards in the fashion industry would be to pass on my experience to younger generations. I applied for support and help to set up a training school and I found the right people, who gave me a boost. Now, it is here that we give lessons in the three courses we offer: Modelling and Fashion Design course, Dressmaking course and, also, the Arts and Crafts course.


Has the project proved popular?

At the moment we have 12 students, but we are looking if we can grow next year. The demand has been huge. We have girls from the age of 14 up to ladies with degrees. At the moment I only have female students, but I have two men enrolled for the coming courses. It is clear that, as this is the first course, we need to understand what the youth is like and their desire to learn. There is still a great deal to fine-tune: from compliance with schedules, or motivation and commitment, which is very difficult. In my younger days, we had nerve, we were thirsty, and I had to be the very best in my class. We were proud and we made an effort, but today youngsters don?t do this. Nevertheless, the academy has been in existence for a year and a half and I can confirm that everything is going well and the coming courses are already filled. My dream would be to be able to train professionals in the area of fashion.


Is this a way a leaving your personal stamp?

It is a fantastic way to be able to contribute to the development of my country. And, yes, it is a way I have found of leaving my personal stamp. I see my dream coming true with each day and this is what gives me the most pleasure and what really makes me happy.


What can your students achieve?

To start with I have a major challenge. When I am invited to take part in a fashion show, I want my girls to finish it off, showing what they have learnt as Dina Simão?s Arte e Fashion.