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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Sao Paulo Fashion Week: Day 1

—Franklin Melendez

Brazilian fashion is much more than an excuse to idolize Gisele, refine microscopic swimwear or replenish Madonna’s cougar fodder—though the former two are juggernaut industries in their own right and revered nationally to the point of religious fervor. As the summer 09/10 season of Sao Paolo Fashion Week kicks off, it's clear that the country that elevated the G-string to a science has moved on to new territory, along the way transforming the cosmopolitan city into an international fashion destination. Colette, for example, is lending its seal of approval by feting SPFW with a pop-up shop. Colette Loves SPFW is a Parisian valentine to our tropical hosts, stocked chock-full of specially designed goodies by the likes of Genevieve Gaucklet, Fafi, Ima Galeria and Brazilian fashion rag MAG!

Of course, there are the shows, lots of them. Today, opening day, the highlight had to be Colcci, for two reasons. One, Miss Bunchen stalked the runway in her sole catwalk appearance. And two, so did the aforementioned boy-toy, Jesus Luz. I'm told by a Columbian reporter that last year he almost stole the leggy one's spotlight by causing the type of pandemonium usually reserved for student riots or the premiere of a telenovela. This season he caused less of a problem on the runway, and all eyes were rightfully on the clothes. A superstar in Brazil, Colcci presented a frothy assortment of flesh-tone patchwork baby dolls and pastel sportswear with a slightly marooned-at-sea feel.


But this wouldn’t be a proper fashion week without a kick-off bash. In this case, it was a celebration for Bethy Lagardère (seen here posing with a Gaultier gown designed for her in Brazil’s national colors for the 1998 Soccer World Cup), whose massive personal collection of couture was previewed in anticipation of an upcoming exhibition. Resembling a cross between Deeda Blair and Bianca Jagger, with a dash of Della Reese, Lagardère is also being honored with the documentary Bounjour Madame, which traces her adventures in life and love—and couture, including Alaïa, Ungaro and Dior, to name just a few. Guests, admirers, designer and loads of Brazilian celebrities packed into the top floor of the luxe retail palace Iguatemi. (I note with approval that, south of the equator, anything elastic and neon-hued counts as black-tie attire.) Also on hand were Anne Valerie Hash, of whom Lagardère has been a longtime patron, and Alexis Mabille, who looked surprisingly relaxed, even though his upcoming Paris menswear debut is only a week away.

Naturally, once you provide unlimited champagne to a roomful of jet-lagged, tropically dazed editors and members of the press, conversation inevitably turns to one subject: Jesus. Yes, the most favored pet of her Madgeness manages to turn world-weary editors into a pack of giggling schoolgirls—I can't even exempt myself. Topics ranged from backstage sightings to height disputes (“He has magnificent blue eyes,” purred one editor, “but he’s a tiny little man!”). Consensus is that despite his youthful missteps (best to avoid tattoos of one’s own name), we'd be willing to forgive and forget.

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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sao Paulo Fashion Week: Day 1

By Pia Catton...

Sao Paulo Fashion Week opened with a day of extreme variety. Early on the roster was Osklen, which I've been looking forward to since I stumbled into his shop in Soho. Backstage before the show, Brazilian model Drielly Oliveira adjusted the fake dreadlocks woven into her hair and quickly summed up the appeal of Oskar Metsavaht's popular brand: "It's street style. It's easy to wear."

This collection, in particular, will be just that. Much of it was made from thick gray fleece. And although there was one classic PE department sweatshirt, the design kept it all far away from the locker room. Long dresses had full exaggerated skirts and several mini-skirts were cut with undulating ruffles—both had plenty of swish. A men's suit cut in an athletic-looking fabric could give Casual Friday a new lease on life.

But design was only half the story. Metsavaht has used his massive popularity for good by creating the Instituto e (E-Institute), which bestows an environmental seal of approval to fabrics made with sustainable methods. To get the seal, the production must be eco-friendly and do some variation of social good. Five e-fabrics were used in the collection, including vegetal leather, which is made from a natural latex extracted from rubber trees. The production employs rubber trappers and no toxins are used in the process. So how does it look? In the show, a stiff and sculptural raincoat was made from the stuff. Upon closer inspection backstage, the fabric felt pretty much like thin rubber. More interesting was the feel of a skirt made from coated fleece, which was so soft you could use it as a blanket.

As for those fake dreads, all the models (male and female) wore them, as well as nerd glasses that made them all look like booksmart Rastafarians.


But the mood changed drastically at Mario Queiroz. This men's designer took up heraldic motifs: repeated crests were printed on oversized hoodies and plaid capes were draped across the shoulders. But the best part was the beefcake factor. A bare-chested, long-haired warrior king strode the runway wearing pants, a leather helmet and leather straps holding his shoulder armor in place. Braveheart in Brazil? Yum.

For Cori, Dudu Bertholini and Rita Comparato (who also design bathing suits and more for Neon) turned out a chic and sophisticated collection. Though it was decidedly "Brazil"—a little too much use of colorful leather stripes—it was well-tailored and not boring.

The day ended with Gisele swishing her hips down the runway for Colcci and its skinny jeans. Gisele's shape is just as outrageous as it appears in photos, so why did someone add a fluffy mini-train of black tulle to the back of her jeans? Way to block the view, Colcci.


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