Cocktails With... Sandra Gato

Sunday, September 08, 2019

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Editor-in-chief of Elle Portugal Sandra Gato was recently on The Rock for a reconnoitring cultural expedition. The Lisbon native came to Jamaican shores to explore the local fashion, food, and tourism scenes to be able to speak with specificity when imploring her readers to visit the island. SO caught up with the engaging Gato over a glass of Pinot Grigio (alas, Vinho Verde wasn't being poured) at the boutique of local designer Keneea Linton-George, who hosted an almost private viewing of her collection for Gato.

How long have you been at Elle Portugal?

I've been at the magazine for 26 years. After graduating with a media studies degree from Universidade NOVA de Lisboa, I joined the magazine as a journalism trainee. Then I went on to be beauty editor, then features editor, and for the past six years, I have been proud of being the editor-in-chief.


What is your earliest fashion memory?

When I was very young, my grandmother would always say “never leave the house without lipstick and a little heel”. She strongly believed in being classy, but also comfortable in your own skin. Even before she died at 83, she never left the house without lipstick and some sort of heels.


What were your first impressions of Jamaica?

I landed in Montego Bay, and the people here are very friendly, like back in my own country. Even showing my passport was a good experience. I find that Jamaican people want to connect with you without ulterior intention. Plus there seem to be no body-shaming issues like in Europe — women of all sizes are celebrated here.


What has surprised you most?

Your anti-plastic laws! We are trying to ban single-use plastic bags and straws in Portugal at the moment, and Jamaica has already done it. This is a great initiative, and you are very forward as a country.


At the moment, what's Lisbon's fashion scene like?

Portugal and especially Lisbon have become go-to destinations for travellers (Editor's note: Lisbon is, in fact, one of Europe's least expensive capital cities). Due to the influence of tourism, there has been a change in the lifestyle of Lisbon. This has resulted in the opening of chic new hotels, restaurants and shops. Our main luxury shopping street, Avenida da Liberdade, is like the Champs-Élysées in Paris. There you can find stand-alone boutiques of well-known luxury brands and splashy multi-brand shops. In hip/alternative neighbourhoods like Bairro Alto, you can find cool boutiques and clothing from Portuguese designers. The locally made products are of excellent quality as Portugal has lots of great factories in the north.


This explains why you have two fashion weeks.

Well, yes, we do have two fashion weeks — ModaLisboa and Porto Fashion Week. ModaLisboa takes place in Lisbon, which is considered a centre of creativity as it is the home of design and art schools, while Porto (Editor's note: Porto is a coastal city three hours north of Lisbon famous for its factories and manufacturing of Port) is the home of industry, manufacturing and old Portuguese companies. Both fashion weeks used to be stiff competitors, but now they are finding ways of working together. Plus Portuguese designers also travel abroad to show during fashion week in Milan, Paris, London and New York.


Currently, who is your favourite Portuguese fashion designer?

At the moment it's Diogo Miranda.



He is very creative, his clothes are well-made, and he is gifted at tailoring. His pieces not only look good, but they are also very comfortable. Also, he's very international; his designs have a loyal following in Dubai, and he is excellent with the press.


What has been your favourite meal during your trip here?

I loved jerk fish and am looking forward to having my first patty! The tropical fruits I had — guinep, naseberry, jackfruit — were exceptional. So many great flavours!


In your estimation, why should Portuguese tourists travel to Jamaica?

I will tell them that they will feel at home in Jamaica as the people are very similar to us — we both love having fun. Plus, Jamaica is a good example of issues that we are talking about in Portugal. And, of course, the music, food and fashion scene are not to be missed.

Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at




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