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Saturday, October 25, 2008

Brasilia Nuts

Anh Tuan Pham...

I've always had my suspicions about Brasilia. Does the Brazilian capital actually exist or is it just a point on the map of the modernist imagination? According to legend, Brasilia is a meticulously planned city with a monolithic skyline of odd orbs and sensuous curves envisioned by the great architect Oscar Niemeyer. (By the way, in a testament to the longevity of modernism, Oscar is 101 years old this year!). But could such an idealistic place really exist? Short answer: yes. And I know this because I recently visited Brasilia for Capital Fashion Week, now in its fifth season, showcasing local talent with, not surprisingly, an emphasis on social and environmental responsibility. And naturally, architecture was an inspiration for many of the designers. Here, a collage of my favorite looks, along with photos of the city taken by yours truly...

1. Juliana Aragão e Giovana Maia's androgynous pieces seemed destined for android aliens disembarking their temporarily parked UFOs.

2. Although known mostly for jewelry,
Sandra Lima caught my eye with her complex, highly-constructed black mini-dresses with quirky architectural undulations.

3. A self-taught designer now in his third year,
Romildo Nascimento presented a number of deconstructed looks for men and women, including this vest repurposed as men's shorts.

João e Maria's loose houndstooth suits were reminiscent of David Byrne à la Psycho Killer. The young duo's light-hearted presentation was part of a group show organized by IESB, Brasilia's fashion school.

5. Girls from Brasilia, though landlocked, can still dream of the sea, as Camila Prado attested with her nautical-themed collection inspired by WWII sailor tattoos.

Mara Mac, who also presents at São Paulo Fashion Week, is already a fashion institution for the smart, sophisticated Brasileira set. His bubble dresses with colorful soap-bubble prints made me happy.

Lei Basica's casual creations are inspired by far-off, exotic places like...Brooklyn. Though images of the L train weren't conjured, the dreamy pieces and feather headdresses stole the show.

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