The men of Rio and São Paulo stood cheek-to-cheek. Oscar Niemeyer and São Paulo’s fashion gave life to carousel, a work of synergy, to properly celebrate SPFW — São Paulo fashion week. A caravanserai of apparel, events, exhibition and mirabolanti 2.0 tricks. Paulista creative crianças don’t just lay by the pool drinking caipirinhas and dancing samba; they are building a colorful system, which can carry people out of favelas and the country’s fashion products outside of boundaries. The 40th edition marked 20 years of Brazilian fashion. For the occasion, the event made its way back home, where it thrived for 15 years. The Fundação Bienal, conceived by the Carioca architect Niemeyer, hosted the Brazilian celebrations in a glass and reinforced concrete monolith with a heart molded into dynamic shapes and sensual curves. Throughout its forty editions, three million people have gravitated around the event. It is an important milestone for Brazil, which is currently facing a 70% depreciation of its currency relative to the US dollar. And an important milestone for a country where fashion generated a 55,4 billion dollar turnover in 2014 (approximately 48,9 billion euros), registering 2,6% in growth ascribable to its domestic market, considering the fact that exports amount to 1 billion euros versus the 6,8 billion euros of imports. Nevertheless, according to Rafael Cervone, president of Abit, the paragovernmental company which promotes the Brazilian textile process and, along with Texbrasil, supports São Paulo Fashion Week, Minas Trend Preview, Dragão Fashion Brasil, Salão Moda Brasil and Casa de Criadores, “Brazil has presence in markets such as the US, France and UK and also in Japan, a country naturally opened to an innovative and sustainable fashion. Few years ago, the Middle East and Asia, especially China, also entered in the crosshairs of the Brazilian brands. In Middle East, there is already a certain presence of the national product, while in China our brands are still in the phase of product integration.”
3-2-1 SPFW IGNITION: TRAVELING AROUND THE WORLD
The SPFW anniversary-show celebrating 20 years of Alexandre Herchcovitch took place inside São Paulo’s town hall and opened the carousel. Under the spotlight, an array of must-have dresses à la Mapplethorpe, veiled and covered in robotical contraptions, and cloistral tunics entangled in dark ribbons. “It’s a tale of love and loss, perversion and power, a mega mix of everything I’ve explored throughout my career, the obsession with the body and the physical creation of the dress around it,” said Herchcovitch, who is setting out to find a new production partner in light of the impending end of his contract and the lack of a renewal with the Inbrands group. The event celebrated the change that has taken place over these 20 years and which has characterized South America’s fashion scene. Inside the 2 square kilometers of green in Parco Ibirapuera, 29 fashion shows dedicated to Fall/Winter 2016/17 cherished this green by pouring it out on the fabric. It was a trip around the world, where all streets led to another land. Amid plants and local costumes, layouts harkened back to centuries-old traditions and pleasant places. Green arboreal ornaments and a variety of carefully collected souvenirs spread out across the catwalks. Reinaldo Lourenço took us on a series of stop-overs in Portugal, including Porto and Lisbon. “I have an infinite number of photos in my mind, photos I took during a trip,” explained the designer, who took popular folklore, reinterpreted it and put it on bcbg smocks and swing skirts with details taken from the people of Lusitania, and arabesques from the azuleios. For his Apartamento 03, Luiz Claudio drew inspiration from Virginia Woolf and British decor — the herbal collections kept in the mansions of Northamptonshire’s countryside — featuring plissé jumpsuits made with plants and perfected with fringes of braids lightening the movements and dresses like gardener aprons made of light silk, worn over shirts with macro bows and ruches on the arms. In addition, silk and cashmere ankle-length nightgowns came decorated with abstract flowers. Helô Rocha made its return to the catwalk six months after his last show, for which he had thrown a funeral party. He once again chose England, this time in the XVI century, with amazon damsels from the past wearing dresses with gorgets, ready to ride their horses through the forest, bearing bow and arrows and cartridge belts on their waists, dressed in fur-like coats, made with light fabric bundles and feathered boleros. Coven also called on nature in its striped knitwear, underneath egg-shaped paletots covered by dandelions and multicolored ramages.
The pride and joy of this new SPFW edition was technology, which seems to have taken over São Paulo’s fashion all of a sudden, with 4-million bloggers sitting in the first rows at the fashion shows. Set around the Biennial festival, ten high-tech corners recorded the fashion experiences, and Luminosidade, the company organizing and running the SPFW, launched three 360-degree videos narrating the creativity of its designers, conceived in partnership with the cinematographic producer O2 and Facebook Brazil. Model Caroline Trentini sealed the new media revolution by closing Ellus’ show while filming the moment with a GoPro. “We pay a lot of attention to what is going on around the world and we are reinventing ourselves accordingly,” explained Adriana Bozon, the brand’s creative director along with the designer Rodolfo Souza, who conceived a street-sport and performance-art fashion show, with skaters pushing through the Espaço Niemeyer’s never-ending catwalk, parkour athletes landing triple pikes and men and women mingling dressed in competition attire, checkered like a Formula 1 racing flag. Completing the picture were silver paletots exposing tech tops with Ellus written all over and joggers with drawstrings on the waist showing athletic briefs. “Brands are changing the way they work in order to adapt to a demanding customer,” explained Paulo Borges, artistic director of the SPFW. “It’s a revolution; the introduction of the new 360-degree technology - technology launching soon on NOWFASHION - produced in partnership with O2 and Facebook, along with the new lifeblood provided by brands aiming at conquering international markets, will push us to make Brazilian fashion increasingly strong.”
Ronaldo Fraga opted for a digital-theatrical performance as well, crafting an installation comprised of four beds and a man and a woman undressing for a painting à la Marina Abramovic. Giuliana Romanno brought her keen minimalism to the gallery and ran in Villa Jaguar XE for Vitorino Campos amid works of art and a Jaguar parked in the middle of the living room. The collection was inspired by the pink planet, produced in Rio de Janeiro, and, for the first time, was presented with the addition of two male looks. “We are growing in spite of the fact that the circumstances are not positive,” said CEO Natalia Troccoli. “We increased our production and, besides from getting ready to sell in the USA, Japan, Italy and France, we’re planning to open our first store in São Paulo within the next one and half years,” she added. Uma Raquel is also rushing towards the United States, with the imminent opening of the first flagship store in New York, and Patricia Bonaldi, founder of Noda, the group that controls PatBo, Apartamento03 and Lucas Magalhães, is slowly entering the international market. “Brazilian fashion is going through a pivotal moment of adaptation to the international scene and is evolving in the domestic market,” she explained. And she brought to the catwalk damsels wearing their hair in braids like rap-vikings, with Norse warriors’ weightless cashmere kimonos covered in mini drapes, dresses with silky fluctuating or interwoven sailor ropes. In the last decade alone, the turnover generated by the Brazilian fashion industry has grown tenfold and the country is now the eighth largest market in the world; but there’s obviously a lot more to be accomplished.
CHALLENGING THE CRISIS
Because this country is still a place where each purchase gets parcelado, and it’s fast fashion that is registering the best performances, with Riachuelo showing continuous growth (+25% relative to 2014), for the SPFW Lethicia Bronstein and her iconic lace were hired for an in-store made-to-measure project, customizing dresses for 500 real (approximately 115 euros), ahead of the launch of a capsule collection with blogger Camila Coutinho on the first of December. Retail is talking about genetic mutations as well, with Iguatemi, the group responsible for opening the first shopping mall in Brazil 50 years ago and now the owner of 17 across the national territory, apparently taking the first step to cover the trade deficit that the crisis will generate, announcing the expansion in the outlet industry with openings in Tijucas, Santa Catarina, Nova Lima, Belo Horizonte in Minas Gerais and in Curitiba by 2017, which will add up to the existing one in Nova Hamburgo in Porto Alegre.
READY-STEADY-GO: RIO 2016 OLYMPICS
Meanwhile, Gloria Coelho is staying close to her core business with jerseys and big skirts with leather panels, tuxedo jumpsuits with black lamb stoles or mirrored leather thunders on demi-couture dresses. Precious structures for Fernanda Yamamoto as well, created with Sebrae, the program that supports the young Brazilian entrepreneurs who contributed to the creation of origami dresses or dresses in large mesh and coats with large patterns wrapped in an explosion of pastel colors. Osklen and Colcci drew inspiration from the Olympic Games, the former creating a team taken from ancient Greece, dressed in wide active tank tops and XXL gladiator sandals, and contemporary denim: ready for Rio 2016. Patricia Viera received an honorary degree from the Centro Universitário Belas Artes during the show, then the exhibition “A Dazzling Beauty — Miles Aldridge” followed, with a collection of pictures taken by the British photographer, widely known for his surreal oversaturated photos, and the book signing by designer Ronaldo Fraga and the style-star Costanza Pascolato, and even the preview of the exhibition “À Flor da Pele,” telling the stories of Brazilian icons through a series of portraits made by local artists.
BACK TO THE FUTURE SOLUTIONS
“[It was] a vibrant edition, focusing on the celebration of the process and the peculiarities of the Brazilian way, with a daily turnout betwen 7,000 and 9,000 visitors,” said Graça Cabral, co-founder of the SPFW and director of Luminosidade. “We still have problems with the complex national taxation policy that, when applied to a long supply chain like the one in the fashion industry, generates an impact on production costs and, as a consequence, on the price of Brazilian products, excessively high when compared to the average in the global market. On the other hand, the depreciation of the Brazilian currency encourages international commerce,” he explained.