As Brazil's LGBTQ and black communities feel constantly threatened by the current extreme right-wing politics, fashion takes a stand. While the economy gives slow signs of recovery, the daily life on the ground is a battlefield for anyone concerned with human rights against the innumerous tweets, interviews, and actions from the president against the LGBTQ, feminist, and underprivileged communities. Misogynistic speech became commonplace and the struggles of the African Brazilian community are usually left out of the official agenda.
One of the only positive signs that can be perceived amidst this unstable time is the rise of voices from minorities carrying an out-of-this world strength that wouldn’t manifest itself in calm waters.
Fashion became a political tool for designers, photographers, writers, and editors who have quickly shifted their work to promote equality and human rights. If diversity is a global trend in the industry, in Brazil we can call it a revolution.
“I believe fashion is a voice enhancer and, when used as a political manifestation, it becomes even more powerful,” said designer Célio Dias, founder of LED, whose shows at São Paulo Fashion Week carry strong messages to enhance the beauty and value of the LGBTQ community. “Brazil has been suffering a wave of conservatism in many areas, and I believe in the importance of freedom of expression. I feel that this war has always existed. It is now wider open, and this shows that we must be more alert and combative,” continued Dias.
Photographer Thiago Borba has shifted the course of his career to focus on the project BLVCKSBTFLL (Black is Beautiful) in his native city of Salvador, Bahia. “I like to think that my work is about 100% ‘organic’ and Brazilian fashion. Organic because there is nothing more natural than skin and nature, and Brazilian because the African matrix is our greatest ancestral root. My role is to eternalize in photographs what we have in abundance and society has taught us to neglect.”
Founder of Made in Brazil Magazine Juliano Corbetta is an industry veteran who is also taking a stand with the launch of SambaZine, a new magazine to showcase young talent in Brazil. “This new project is about art, youth, sexuality, and, above all, creative freedom. I see youth fashion taking a political stand and being used as an antidote to the often homophobic and misogynist speech of our current government. My position is very evident in this new project, which is a celebration of people I believe represent the future, all together in one book.”
21-year-old multi-talented artist Hisan Silva's work is a celebration of the reality he wants to see and be seen. “We always believed in fashion as behavior, so we transferred to fabrics the behaviors we saw around us, our life references, our aspirations as young black kids in a favela context. We see the self-esteem of the people around us in need of care, support, and affection,” said Silva, who launched the project Dendezeiro with partner Pedro Batalha.
Silva's work embodies design, styling, and photography. “I've always tried to move the reinsertion speech to those who bar us and rebuild self-esteem to those around us with my work.”
Recently appointed as Marie Claire's senior fashion editor, stylist and art director Ana Wainer feels she is on a mission to promote gender equality and empower women. “My role as a fashion editor today is not only to imprint my own aesthetic vision onto Marie Claire but to also be a facilitator and hub of new creative voices, to promote and contemplate different world views within the magazine itself when it comes to fashion. My main goal is to foment women’s individual and collective voices,” said Wainer.
While the future of the country is uncertain, the movements rising from creatives are certainly gaining momentum and dominating the conversations online and in the streets. If at first we were scared, now a new force is taking shape.
SambaZine Photo by Pedro Pereira