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Monday, November 26, 2007

We sent Glenn Belverio to Belo Horizonte for a peek at what the Brazilians are up to...

Belo Horizonte, located in Brazil’s state of Minas Gerais, does not have spectacular beaches, a Godzilla-sized Christ statue, or an über-hedonistic Carnival celebration. But while few cities in the world can compete with Rio, what Belo Horizonte does have is 12,000 bars (including an outdoor pub in the middle of the woods called Freud), an important church designed by Oscar Niemeyer, and a lively art and thrash-metal scene.

Brazil's third largest city is also host to the Minas Trend Preview, a 3-day event where 80 fashion and accessories brands recently showcased their designs. Sponsored by ABIT, the Brazilian Textile and Apparel Industry Association, the mini-Fashion Week was a chance for international buyers and press to see what Brazil and beyond will be wearing for fall/winter 2008. (For those readers who have never ventured out of the Northern Hemisphere, South America’s winter occurs during the North’s summer, and vice versa. Because of the temperate winter season, “snowflakes in Brazil” is usually along the lines of a Holly Golightly/Sally Tomato “weather” forecast, if you catch my drift. My fashion fantasy for a Brazilian winter involves donning a mink bolero and a pair of Rosa Chá sungas, and heading for the nearest chaise longue with a pitcher of caipirinhas.)


MTV Brazil's Daniella Cicarelli walking for Bárbara Bela
Myriam Leon Troconiz of Ocean Drive Venezuela and Elle Argentina fashion editor Simona Martinez.


And just WHO is Brazil wearing these days? On the first day of Minas Trend, MTV Brazil siren Daniella Cicarelli vamped down the runway in a satin dress by Bárbara Bela and shoes by Sylvia Brandão. Lesser deities marched around a wall bisecting the runway in new looks from Di Bela, Vivaz, and Fabiana Milazzo. 1920’s-style hats from Pedro Motta complemented flapper-like dresses, some of which were adorned with ostrich-feather-trimmed hems. One standout brand was Coven. “Like Missoni, only better!” one retail site chirps about the line’s striped and patterned knitted pieces. Bright and peppy, Coven’s designs brought a punch of frivolity to the parade of more serious social dresses. Designed by Liliane Rebehy Queiroz, the name of this Belo Horizonte-based company is inspired by “the good luck that witches bring.”



The weather witches brought bad luck on the second evening of Minas Trend when Brazil’s rainy season reached typhoon proportions. Three of the exhibition tents collapsed from the storm’s force, while Biblical plague-sized hailstones pelted hapless trend spotters. “People were praying, screaming, and crying,” one eyewitness told me. Fortunately, our small group of journos and editors were safely back at the hotel watching Philip Seymour Hoffman’s overrated portrayal of Truman Capote on TV. (Somehow the Portuguese subtitles made it more bearable.)

Sunshine accompanied us on the following day when we ventured away from the shows. After a delicious lunch of chicken cooked in its own blood, polenta, and sugar-saturated green figs, we stopped by the shop of Ronaldo Fraga in the São Pedro district. We loved the store’s mannequins and the designer’s clever use of stripes and patterns.


Ronaldo Fraga shop
cute car shoes from Fraga



A Portuguese feast, chicken cooked in its own blood—yummy!
The fabulous Lalá Guimarães at Dona Lucinha


During a break from the Minas Trend Preview, we visited the fantastic Church of St. Francis of Assisi in Pampulha. Designed by Communist architect Oscar Niemeyer (the mastermind who designed the capital city of Brasilia) in 1943, the controversial church was not consecrated by the Catholic powers-that-be until 1959. This was partly due to the over-sensual representations of Christ inside the church. The bas relief of Adam in the Garden of Eden looks like a scene from a gay porn film! And then there's the rumor that the church resembles a hammer and sickle when viewed from above. What's not to love? Niemeyer, by the way, will turn 100 years old this December 15th.


Church of St. Francis of Assisi
Simona ascends the ramp at the Niemeyer-designed Museum of Modern Art



Belo Horizonte means "beautiful horizon" in Portuguese
Our wonderful host, Gabriel Rajão of ABIT



Debonaire Elle Argentina photographer Gustavo DiMario
Yours truly relaxing after a long day of Brazilian fashion and architecture

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