He's many things to many people, yet Alexandre Herchcovitch is unlike any other designer in Brazil. A true contrarian, if he does partake in the Brazilian tradition of putting a bikini on the runway, he'll pair it with a balaclava. But of all the superlatives that define him, perhaps indefatigable is the most apt. I learned this once again on a recent trip to Fashion Rio, where the Paulistano provocateur and my old friend presented his second line, Herchcovitch, and launched an eponymous store, his first in the Marvelous City. And where, to my surprise (but not), he told me he's started acting...
We're backstage at your show and you're so calm, Ale.
I cannot be stressed. This collection was ready twenty days ago. For the show I'm presenting in Sao Paulo on June 11, we're going to do 32 looks and 28 of them are already done. Now I'm working on the next collection, not the one in two weeks, which is pretty much over for me.
I'm reminded of the time I met you ages ago. You were DJing at the Festa da Peruca (wig party) and zen-like in your calmness...
Because I don't believe in being nervous. Stress won't help me out. I stay relaxed and I trust everyone in my team, and I count on them. They know exactly what I like, which is to be very quiet.
Speaking of wigs, transgender models are all the rage these days. I feel like you started that, like ten years ago.
More than ten years ago. In November 1993 I had a drag queen friend of mine walk in a show. That was almost twenty years ago. For years after that I kept using tranny friends in my shows. Lea T walked in a show of mine a year and a half ago. I didn't use her to open the show. She was among the other models...
Right, because she doesn't want to be thought of as a celebrity tranny.
She is officially a woman now. She doesn't have any part of her that reminds her of a man. The transformation is complete [laughs]. If she's a good model and she does her work well on the catwalk and in campaigns, why not use her like any other model? No big deal.
I know you like to appear as yourself in telenovelas. Have you been in any lately?
No, but this year I was invited to be part of an HBO series in Brazil and Latin America. It's out in September. It's called Destination São Paulo.
Do you play yourself?
No, I acted. It's so weird how it started. My father likes to act in TV commercials, just for fun. He's with two agencies. He's 67 and he's done like six or seven already. He has a face like a rabbi so one day this production company asked him to do a test for a big series, playing a father in a Jewish family.
Which he already is.
Yes, but we're not religious. His face is what they wanted, so he did a test and he got the part. He played a father of a fashion designer son who moves to New York and the family discovers he is gay. He's returning to São Paulo because he has designed a wedding dress for his sister. My father called me and said it's such a coincidence and I should test for the part of the son. So I did and they said it had to be me. We're already done filming. It might also be shown in the U.S.
Sounds like a lot of fun.
Yeah. Telenovelas are big in Brazil. I'm doing more tests. Maybe I'll become an actor!
If you could invite any other designer to Brazil, who would it be and what would you show off?
Rei Kawakubo. I would try to show her the intuitive way people dress up here with little money.
Do you have any plans for the Rio Olympics in 2016?
My plan is to avoid it. I will not be in Rio. I will not be in Brazil at all. It will be a huge mess.
Wow, you really don't like stress.
It'll be lots of people with little transportation, airport chaos and so on. I will be far away, for sure.