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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Sao Paulo Fashion Week: Day 6

By Pia Catton...

Sao Paulo Fashion Week ended with an homage to the days of modeling past. Instead of a runway show, the designers of Neon sent out models two by two and had them strike poses from Paris couture houses circa 1954. But it's fair to assume that nothing this bright—the kaleidoscopic prints were trimmed in black beading—ever swanned its way down the Avenue Montaigne. And at the end of a long week, this vogue-a-thon was a welcome change.


In the category of Things That Make You Go Hmmm, several shows here incorporated the brand's sponsors in ways that wouldn't fly in New York or Paris. At Gloria Coelho, the collection (long on texture and intricate detail) was preceeded by her uniforms for Mercure hotels. And at Andre Lima, the show started with a model eating a Magnum ice cream bar at the end of the runway—holding the foil package so no shot could miss it. Crass commercialism? Maybe. But it's also a sign of an economy with some buzz and creativity. Brazil's consumer brands are trying out new ways of partnering. And they're spending money to do it. (Plus free Magnum bars—yum!)

When it's all tallied up, there must be some hefty bills from Sao Paulo Fashion Week. Just the props and set designs alone included snow machines above fake trees, plus runways lined with treadmills, balloons, sand and life-size surrealist puppets. (And everyone tells me this was tame compared to years past.) Not only that, the big denim brands spend big on top models: Gisele at Colcci, Agyness at Ellus.

But let's not overlook the designers doing an honest day's work. Alexandre Herchcovitch turned out collections for men and women that combined creativity and real life. His raincoats for men might be the hottest ticket in town, and those fur shoulder coverings on the women's suits are all about a power surge. Isabela Capeto was one of the few designers who really seemed to capture a sense of Brazil-in-winter: colorful and fully accessorized. If I had my way, I'd import Do Estilista, Huis Clos and Uma Raquel Davidowicz pronto. But for now, I'll settle for heading back to New York and ducking into the Osklen shop in Soho when I need a Brazil fix.

Isabel Capeto

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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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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

São Paulo Fashion Week: Isabela Capeto

Isabela Capeto is a Rio-based designer, but made the most of São Paulo Fashion Week by installing her fall collection on twirling mannequins in her São Paulo store. Isabela has a uniquely Brazilian aesthetic—a sweetly naive and kind of nutty one at that—with pulsing bright colors and handmade prints, but never in an over-the-top Carmen Miranda way. For fall, as if she needed to get any bigger in Japan, Isabela says she was inspired by a recent trip to Tokyo, hence the jumble of cityscape prints, kimono-esque shapes, funky jewelry and pink wigs (what is it with the Japanese and colored hair?). In addition to Rio and São Paulo, you can find her irresistibly cute wares in Barneys in Japan, Browns in London and Colette in Paris. Be sure to check out her new perfume in a bottle designed by Surface to Air, a three-dimensional version of her flared-skirt logo.

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