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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Sao Paulo Fashion Week: Day 6

—Franklin Melendez

Last day of shows and everyone is in a complete daze. Telltale signs a fashion journalist is burnt out: an eerily attentive face, overly styled ensembles (drop crotches, gladiators), a disregard for the cardinal sin of a repeat outfit or no outfit in favor of sweats, frazzled laughter followed by some reference to your editor. We suffer acutely from all of these symptoms, but soldier on.

Isabela Capeto provided a haunting presentation, with a bare backdrop and elaborate choreography that culminated with a ghostly line-up of models. The collection continued the week's strongest trends: slouchy tailoring executed in killer prints, which the Brazilians excel at. Later, Movimiento was exactly what you'd expect from Brazilian swimwear, including tropical foliage headpieces and wooden jewelry. The effect was slutty Chiquita Banana, but in the best way possible.

But the day's highlight was, of course, Alexandre Herchcovitch menswear, separate from women's and surprisingly restrained. “I wanted to play with the idea of dress up,” Alexandre said after the show. And true to his word the collection was a witty unraveling of a suit, replete with references to Clockwork Orange and Magritte.

Alexandre Herchcovitch

We headed backstage to document the glory. Despite the generous bounty of hunks, we quickly discovered that interviewing male models is a difficult science. Rather than providing witty sound bites, they prefer to rough-house, dig into their backpacks, blast their earphones or make stupid jokes. It's all very charming, but not very interesting. I was about to settle for leering when one of the veterans, 22-year-old Alex Schulz. Asked for reasons to love Sao Paulo, he gave us an extensive list, becoming for a moment an impromptu Goodwill Ambassador. He offered up historical tidbits, restaurant recommendations, and even a travel tip (allegedly a small island off the southern coast remains a paradise unspoiled by tourists). “You should definitely stay another week,” he urged. We thanked him profusely; I may have offered a marriage of convenience in gratitude. We turned to leave when Alex, recalling another reason to enjoy the city, said, “I forgot to mention, there’s a lot of good-looking boys, no?” Maybe I can manage another week.

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Friday, June 19, 2009

Sao Paulo Fashion Week: Day 2

—Franklin Melendez

So I've already made travel-besties here in Sao Paulo; it's with one of the editors of Japanese Vogue and L'Uomo Vogue Japan, who's neither Japanese nor based in Tokyo. Like all good besties, we're instant bad influences on each another and devise numerous escape plans for the beach and/or shopping. We settle for giggling in the corner and picking out Brazilian boyfriends, concocting schemes to photograph them under false pretenses. Right now she's coordinating a shoot with Mario in Rio, attacking her Blackberry with intrepid abandon.

A few things to note about Sao Paolo Fashion Week that New York could learn from. One, they are very organized and take into account travel from different venues so that one is unlikely to miss a show because one couldn't hail a cab in Hell's Kitchen or was trampled by the editors of Teen Vogue. Two, the organizers are actually nice to the press. They let us in, tuck us into our seats and even consider some of our more outlandish requests, like interviews or backstage access. And three, they hold the main events in a centralized location, not scattered across the city like a scavenger hunt. The overall effect is not unlike a vision of Christmas Yet To Come for the New York schedule when it relocates to Lincoln Center.

As for the shows, there were some lovely offerings from Maria Bonita, who whipped up an ode to the countryside by utilizing mantas (checked napkins) and checked market bags as the point of departure. The whimsical theme was spun into sophisticated geometric shift dresses, à la Maria Cornejo. There was a clean yet historically rich ethos reminiscent of early Herchcovitch. Rubber dresses and rubberized cotton completed the references to Brazilian plantation life. I coveted some printed, cut-out oxfords that would look perf with my new Givenchy shorts.

But the day's main event was clearly Alexandre Herchcovitch for women (he also stages a men's show). He took current trends—structure, padded shoulders—and exploded them into piñata-like proportions. The catwalk showcased all his strengths: expertly juxtaposed print-on-print, clever uses of texture and a bit of club-kid shock value. And yet it still managed to engage tailoring on a very technical level. It's Ale’s genius. Some nice lace insets were reminiscent of Christopher Kane, as was a lovely flesh-tone and sheer jumpsuit. The last look was literally a piñata: shredded ribbons over exposed boning and football-like padding—the perfect smash hit to end the show.

Alexandre Herchcovitch

Forum was mostly cocktail wear, and accordingly the front row was jam-packed with ridiculously hot Brazilian telenovela stars I didn't recognize. I inquired with a seatmate, who only mumbled something in a sexy Portuguese accent. Exactly. The collection was a lovely mediation on oceanic themes—fish boning, waves, shells, fish—incorporated into the construction and decoration. There was one slight misstep with a skirt that looked like it had been encrusted with those clams and starfish traction cutouts for your tub. But aside from that, no Little Mermaid moments to report.


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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Q&A: Alexandre Herchcovitch

Paris, late-90s. That's when I saw my first Alexandre Herchcovitch show and witnessed the Brazilian's impeccable, abstract sense of color, shape and proportion, not to mention his knack for provocation. I remember thinking it was as if Couture and Carnaval had a steamy one-night-stand. Years later at São Paulo Fashion Week, as he, Pat Field and I donned neon wigs and sped off to the Festa de Peruca (Wig Party), I learned of his drag roots and skull collection. Which is to say, Ale is full of surprises. Here, a few more...

What's your first fashion memory?
I remember observing my mother while she was dressing to go out. I used to sit on the floor inside her closet and help her choose what to wear. I recall her wearing, in the middle of the 80s, an extra-tight stretch catsuit with leggings and a bat-sleeve sweatshirt, and always with extremely pointy high-heeled pumps. I remember another time she came home with very short hair, half blonde and half red. I thought it was beautiful!

Who were your childhood idols? Were they female like mine?
At first, there was my mother. I was always at her side. Soon after, when I was a teenager, Boy George showed through make-up and clothing that there are no physical limits when it comes to gender change.

You've told me you got your start in the drag scene of São Paulo. What's the funniest escândalo from back in the day?
I started my career as a designer by making clothes for drag queens (not being one of them), prostitutes and transvestites in São Paulo. I dressed the first and most famous Brazilian drag queen, Márcia Pantera. I've made more than 300 outfits for her, but today she has none of them. Her shows were very aggressive. She did things like hang upside down from the club’s lighting, dive into the crowd, bathe herself in beer onstage. Naturally, the clothes could not survive this. One time, Márcia started undressing and threw the accessories I'd made for her into the crowd. At the end, the hostess kindly asked the audience to return them, since they were part of my collection, but to my surprise, no one did! I was shocked and sad with the loss of those precious pieces.

Pretend you're in a beauty pageant. What would your evening gown look like? And your swimsuit?
The gown would be fairly simple, well-cut and structured, probably navy blue, and made with wool, my favorite fabric. The swimsuit would be made with fabric, probably the same as the dress, to match.

Do you wish you were less or more famous?
I never cared about doing what I do to be famous. I don't care for fame. I actually run away from it.

What does the bad economy mean for you? Will you still show your collections in New York?
Sure! I don’t believe in anything that is interrupted and doesn't have a sequence. A crisis serves only to motivate our creativity, and this is what the world needs, better ideas.

What's the most exciting thing coming up for you? Any hot news or collaborations?
I will open a big store in Rio de Janeiro within the first half of this year. Less than a year ago, I joined the management group of a Brazilian brand, InBrands, and we are in a very interesting growth process. I'm also releasing a line of bandages with Band-Aid. And 2010 will be even better!

Ale with muse Geanine Marques

Ale & Alisson Gothz

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Monday, February 9, 2009

New York Fashion Week: Alexandre Herchcovitch

If you've been wondering what Brazilian designer Alexandre Herchcovitch has in store for his fall collection on February 18, take a gander at these fittings photos from the same collection shown in Sao Paulo a couple of weeks ago...

Isabeli Fontana in the first look

Daiane Conterato


Photos Rafael Assef, styling Maurizio Ianes

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Monday, January 19, 2009

Sao Paulo Fashion Week: Day 2

By Pia Catton...

Monday was anything but dull here at Sao Paulo Fashion Week, starting with Forum Tufi Duek, who apparently wanted to revive Madonna's horse fetish from her Confessions tour. Painted-on black leather pants and flowing capes were accented by an undercurrent of horse motifs: belts with silver bits as closures, extended ponytails and a video of horses frolicking in the background. Vamp, vamp and more vamp. And yet much of it could be worn as the straight-up New York uniform of black-on-black—without causing heart attacks.

Alexandre Herchcovitch scored highest with his pile-it-on attitude that seemed closer to a Russian aesthetic than Brazilian. Black suits and jackets had multiple fabrics on lapels and panels; some had what looked like fur caplets on top, but in fact were panels of fur at the shoulders and chest. Color was not absent, and it was topped by extreme beading. Several pieces were so heavy that in fact they appeared light; the weight of the beading made the loose shirts sway from the body and then swing back again to cling seductively to every curve.

Alexandre Herchcovitch

At Do Estilista, Marcelo Sommer seemed to be having a "Sound of Music" moment—are those dresses made out of curtains? No wait, just prints inspired by blue-and-white kitchen tile. Sounds like a recipe for disaster, but in fact the prints were fantastic and many of the cuts were more velvet-rope than Home Depot. And to make it all totally incomprehensible, a row of treadmills was placed on the runway and several of the male models were made to exercise on them—even during the finale.

Hometown favorite Isabela Capeto presented layer-upon-layer of salable, feminine charm. Nothing was simple here—even a little black dress came with hundreds of tiny metallic beads.

I'm quite sure that Ronaldo Franga's collection—mostly black and white structured jackets with leggings—will delight his flock, but the show's theatrics trumped the clothes. On the runway were several six-feet tall surrealist puppets operated by Little Miss (and Mr.) Muffets. The models were elderly men and women, plus very young children. It all had something to do with oblivion, abandonment and a poem by Avaro Apocalypse. Like I said, quite a day.

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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Nose Candy

Other than the venom-green walls of the elevator, color was scarce among the fashion set that gathered at the New Museum for the launch of Six Scents. Otherwise, with the olfactory collaboration between Seven New York, perfume factory Symrise and designers Gareth Pugh, Bernhard Willhelm, Preen, Jeremy Scott, Cosmic Wonder and Alexandre Herchcovitch wafting through the space, it might have been sensory overdose.

Let's just state for the record that the fragrances smell great. For his own take, I tracked down Seven's Joseph Quartana, who curated the designer list. Mostly he seemed relieved to have finally finished the store's first foray into the esoteric world of molecules, calling the project a "cherry-popper." Okay, and how has the response to the eaux de toilette been so far? The early winners are Preen and Gareth Pugh, who happened to be hosting the soiree, so I asked him what his favorite smell in the world was and if it had inspired his creation. His response was touchingly disarming: "Yes, that would be the smell of my boyfriend Carson's hair." Aww.

I then caught up with my old friend and downtown habitué Sophia Lamar, looking fantastic in an aubergine frock and shredded shoes of her own creation (now that's a positive recessionist measure). I asked her if she had a signature scent. Of course she does; she's forever been wearing Alexandra de Markoff perfume oil, which she mixes with Cacharel Pour Homme—you know, for that androgynous touch.

—Suleman Anaya

As Four's Gabi & Joseph Quartana

Gareth Pugh & Carson

The MisShapes

photos Eddie Newton/Stylesightings.com

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Friday, November 7, 2008

Hint Tip: Six Scents

The New Museum has it going on. Hot on the heels of their Elizabeth Peyton opening reception, where Marc Jacobs couldn't keep his hands off new squeeze Lorenzo Martone (and who can blame him?), comes the launch of Six Scents. We know you pored over our latest Beauty Duty, but just in case, Six Scents is the perfume collaboration between the scent masters at Symrise and six designers chosen by Seven New York. For the first in the annual partnership, the designers are Bernhard Willhelm, Alexandre Herchcovitch, Cosmic Wonder, Jeremy Scott, Preen and Gareth Pugh, who has hosting duties for the night...

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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

War of the Roses

Here's a hint of what Alexandre Herchcovitch has in store for his New York show on September 6. The theme, according to Ale, is the intersection between politically troubled regions of the world and the uniforms of the Western forces that invaded them—a way of using fashion to promote liberty, compassion, love and equal rights for all humanity...

Ana Claudia Michels

Bruna Tenorio


Sunday, January 20, 2008

São Paulo Fashion Week: Alexandre Herchcovitch

What would São Paulo Fashion Week be without its premier provocateur? Here, highlights from Alexandre Herchcovitch's fall collection, which, he told us, is all about math (or "meth," as he pronounces it, cutely), geometry and graphs, as if the body didn't exist...

And this is his men's show later in the week, plus a moment with him backstage. By the way, in both of these clips, can you spot Alexandre making his finale hidden among the models?...

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