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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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Monday, June 22, 2009

Sao Paulo Fashion Week: Day 5

—Franklin Melendez

Like a true fashion editor, today I refused to take off my glasses, but mostly because I’m dreadfully hungover, so much so that I have the shakes. Jeremy is faring a bit better, though he still dons industrial-sized shades. Hovering between the living and the dead, I drag myself to the shows. Thankfully, I'm immediately perked up by two of the best collections so far. The first homerun comes courtesy of Neon designers Dudu Bertholini (a legend in Brazil) and Rita Comparato. The show, staged outside, included a live band playing a medley of James Bond themes. Fittingly, the show served up resort wear in the truest sense of the term, all caftans and turbans—the kind you'd see on Peggy Guggenheim in the 40s, lounging on a Riviera yacht, or perhaps Lou Lou de la Falaise in the 70s, reclining poolside with Yves in Morocco. There might be a little with Mrs. Roper thrown in, but I'm not one to judge, and the result is still lush and chic. The crowd went bananas when a particularly nubile model stomped out in a full-body flouro thong—now that's Brazil.


Neon

Next is Ronaldo Fraga, who is the polar opposite. He falls somewhere between the Brazilian Junya Watanabe and Henrik Vibskov, but like all the best shows so far he takes culturally specific references and twists them into his own rich, sexy idiom. With Day of the Dead paper decorations as its reference, the collection offered a strong point of view, blending an unmistakable Latin flair with a conceptual edge. Highlights included woven fabric crosses, cutout paper skirts and hammered-tin necklaces.


Ronaldo Fraga

The rest of the day is a blur, but a bit of fashion grit shamed me out of my torpor. Allegedly, one overzealous Russian editor walked nose first into a glass door at the hotel, fracturing her Slavic schnoz on the spot, much to the dismay of the PR crew. Asked if she’d like to go to the emergency room, she simply shrugged and said, “Mmm…later?” And there she was, front row, in five-inch Lanvin pumps. And that, my friends, is dedication.

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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Sao Paulo Fashion Week: Day 4

—Franklin Melendez

Today in Sao Paulo, there was a single word on everyone's lips: Raquel. The hometown gal was to make her sole appearance, opening and closing the Animale show, a premium denim brand, and the anticipation was electric. Everywhere I turned I overheard the purr of those two syllables like some divine incantation. Rrrrah-quel. There was wild speculation over her fees, outlandish diva demands (reportedly no one could use her mirror) and even political aspirations. I swooned at the thought of an entire nation under her iron rule, and made it my sole mission to get a sound bite.

Now, what follows is a true chronicle of the misfortunes that befell your humble narrator. When we got to Animale, naturally I squeezed myself backstage, joining a cramped pen where the international press had been rounded up like a herd of famished predators. The plan was that we'd be escorted into another room and allotted a few seconds of Raquel's royal attention. But as we were lead in, the sight of a make-up artist attentively smudging kohl over Raquel's eyelid proved too much for one Bolivian editor, who cracked on the spot and bum-rushed. Logically, the rest of us followed and chaos ensued. I was trampled by photographers and we were promptly escorted out. Later on, bruised and defeated, I settled into my seat. The lights came on to illuminate her 5’11 Amazonian splendor. The crown erupted, somebody wept.


Animale

Besides Animale, the day's shows were a mixed bag. With its emphasis on denim, the Brazilian market can sometimes encroach into Real Housewives territory. Erika Ikezili had some charming pieces—balloon shorts, rompers—despite the cluttered styling. Maria Garcia offered playful cocktail attire in short flouncy proportions and Fause Haten served up some serious space-gladiator action, somewhere between Clash of the Titans and Barbarella, replete with antennae accessories.

Later that evening, I met up with photographer and fellow Hint contributor Jeremy Kost. He tried to console me by introducing me to Sao Paulo nightlife, which basically means mega-plex clubs. The multi-levels, lasers and writhing male go-go dancers, with their ripped and shirtless torsos, looked oddly familiar and I realized this could have been an episode of Queer as Folk. We were quickly ushered into the VIP lounge, brimming with young, undiscovered male models. This brought me solace, and in that instant I knew that somewhere Raquel was watching over me.

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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Sao Paulo Fashion Week: Day 3

—Franklin Melendez

Today we devised a helpful little game, assigning Brazilian designers with an American equivalent. We put the system to the test at the first show, Reinaldo Lourenço, who we estimated was the Brazilian Narciso Rodriguez. Which didn't come without a heated dispute, so take it with a grain of salt. Staged at the picturesque FAAP art school, the collection used a Edwardian jacket as its premise, gathered in the back and cleverly elaborated in an array of colors and tailoring options—short, long, cropped, etc. The gathering motif also provided some inventive cocktail dresses in fabrics that look a bit like raffia, evoking Junya Watanabe's adventures in Africa. While exiting, we stumbled onto the art students and immediately started “street casting,” which has become the code name for blatantly leering at the local goods—and there are plenty.


Reinaldo Lourenço

Next up, Simone Nunes was more easily agreed upon as the Brazilian Karen Walker, replete with 60's shift dresses and quirky eyewear. The music was also right on target, though the construction was questionable at times and the styling a bit cluttered (Tim Gunn would definitely not approve), but overall girly and charming.

But the day’s real treat was Agua de Coco, my first swimwear show. It was a major production, with elaborate staging that looked like a public art commission or the backdrop for Olympic opening ceremonies. Clearly the beach is serious business for Brazilians, treated with the care and reverence usually reserved for award show red carpets. The offerings lived up to expectations, and can best be described as evening swimwear—imagine a few strategic strips of an Oscar dress paired with bikini bottoms. The audacity is pure genius, despite doubts about underwater functionality. Highlights included some amazing pleated tops, perfect for lounging poolside or reclining on a rapper's yacht. And though it's been noted a million times, it's worth saying again: those bodies! Mathematical perfection. And for that, there is simply no American equivalent.


Agua de Coco

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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.


Forum

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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.


Colcci

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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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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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.


Neon

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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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Sao Paulo Fashion Week: Day 5

By Pia Catton...

Raquel Zimmermann worked the space-age suits at Animale last night. Her fierce look and take-no-prisoners walk was just right for the go-go Star Trek collection. Though the palette was nude and subtle, there was nothing vulnerable in the Sydney Opera House-like shoulders.


Animale

Another Raquel—Davidowicz, she of the ultra-chic house party I mentioned yesterday—delivered her collection for Uma. It was one of the few that made me think: I want that dress—in this case a sheath with a deep-blue sculpted skirt.

Between that dress and my newly Brazilified hair, I could pass for a local. My black-brown tresses are now a soft honey-brown with sunkissed touches of blonde. It took only four hours, three processes and two weeks of hair envy, but Luciano at L'Officiel III gave me exactly what I wanted. Obrigado, Luciano!

Though I haven't had much time to dig into Sao Paulo's cultural offerings, I was able to hit a show of previously unpublished Rankin photographs, presented by the glossy shopping mall Iguatemi. The portraits included Heidi Klum giving the finger and wearing leather jeans, Kate Moss in boots (and maybe a hat, but nothing else) and Gisele on all fours covered in a digitally manipulated substance made to look like diamonds. The bulk of the show was devoted to rock stars, but the best was an extreme close-up of Mary-Kate and Ashley, somehow made to look like beautiful, mythical creatures.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Sao Paulo Fashion Week: Day 4

By Pia Catton...

When our car pulled up outside the home of Brazilian designer Raquel Davidowicz, the place looked and sounded like a night club on a tight cul-de-sac. A burly security guard stood in front of an opening in a flat cement wall that led to a secret garden of chic. The modernist house was surrounded by 15-foot palm trees and lush greenery—so glamorous that only a Sao Paulo fashion designer could handle it. The party, thrown for the international fashion press and attended by assorted industry types, had the kind of relaxed fancy that Hamptons hostesses dream about and New Yorkers are too neurotic to deliver on.

As the designer of the brand Uma, Raquel has her show on Thursday (watch this space), but was somehow together enough to warmly greet her 200 plus guests. Some of them milled around the pool, which glowed green under a spotlight above the roof. Many crowded around the bar, where one's champagne addiction could be sorely tested by passion-fruit caipirhinias and where even the schmoozing had a light touch. But talking about fashion seemed too work-y in a setting like this. Raquel said that the house had never been photographed for a shelter magazine, but give that about ten minutes. The bathroom counter, for instance, was loaded with about fifty Jeff Koons-esque rubber duckies in different styles.

Dinner was served in small tin boxes with napkins tied around them. Inside was tasty sauted beef and rice with vegetables, followed by chocolate mousse, truffles and a Romeo & Juliet (a fruit puree and soft cheese). The DJ played heavily from the requisite Hard Candy remixes—and to ward off hangovers, coconut water was in large supply. Despite the light rain (a constant presence in this city) a most divine time was had by all.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Sao Paulo Fashion Week: Day 3

By Pia Catton...

There's plenty to play with in the realm of British punk-- with its mix of royality references and its 80's sex appeal. Triton did just that, and in a rather fun way, if not groundbreaking. Need a plaid bodysuit? Got it. Pouf skirt with a T-shirt? Got that, too. The show reconfirmed (as almost every show has) that the low-crotch baggy pants look is not going away any time soon.


Triton

One thing that the British punk theme allows for is a mix of the masculine and feminine. Sharp military jackets and boyfriend jackets worked well with soft skirts, but the Brazilian brands seem to stay closer to femininity, even when they're using fabrics from menswear. At 2nd Floor, there were puffy mini-skirts in materials that could have been used for a man's suit—with a layer of glittery cutouts and strings peeking out from underneath. So not so much femininity as girls going to a balloon-theme birthday party.


2nd Floor

Cavalera mixed everything from Buffalo-plaid shirts to yellow leopard-print pants to pointy rock-star shoes to dresses with ruffles from the American West. A little much when all together, but there's something there for every self-made stylist.

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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, 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.


Osklen

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.


Colcci

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Saturday, January 17, 2009

Goodbye, Rio. Hello, Sao Paulo!

By Pia Catton...

Between the coxinha (chicken croquettes) and fresh acai (the anti-oxidant super fruit), Rio isn't a bad place to nurse a hangover. The beach, however, is. So off I headed to the leafy, bohemian neighborhood of Santa Teresa. Though I was informed repeatedly that I faced certain mugging, I felt safe in knowing I was meeting a local, a friend of a friend of a friend who lives in the area—nothing like three degrees of separation. Nothing bad happened.

Santa Teresa, once a haven for aristocrats, has crumbling buildings, decorative wrought iron and cobblestone streets that give it a French Quarter feel. We popped into the museum dedicated to Raimundo Otoni Castro Maya, an art collector who built a modernist house overlooking the city. The best of the art was neither the minor Picasso nor the Modigliani, but the 500 scenes (displayed in drawers) of early 19th-century Rio de Janeiro painted by the Frenchman Jean Baptiste de Debret. The lithographs served as snapshots of the New World for the folks back in Paris. And judging from these images, Rio has always been as bustling, fast and exotic as it is today.


Jean Baptiste de Debret

After a restorative lunch of feijoada, the traditional Brazilian black-bean stew, I headed back to the tents of Fashion Rio, where I learned two things: I had to depart at 5 am for my 8 am flight to Sao Paulo and "You can't leave Rio without going out to samba!" As it's impossible to argue with a Carioca celebrating her birthday at a samba club, a merry crew was duly rounded up. We made our way to a rustic club, Antiqua Sappore, in the neighborhood of Lapa, where the drinks are about $3 and the samba band keeps going all night. I had a full body sweat going all night, too, but I did make my flight.

Within hours I landed in Sao Paulo, had a quick nap at the hotel and feasted on another round of feijoada. This one was along the Praca Benedito Calixto, a park with a fantastic flea market on Saturdays. Prices are low, and the variety is enticing. Handmade scarves and jewelry range from 5 to 25 Real, but the remnants of technologies past—brightly colored telephones, a purple refrigerator and what must have been the first television in South America—are the more amusing attractions. Silver, too, was in large supply. So if you need that extra place setting, hop on a flight to Sao Paulo. As for fashion, stay tuned. First, another nap.


Flea market

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