Fashion Rio S/S 2011 report: the best in show
While the fashion pack take a little breather between the Milan and Paris menswear collections, we use the brief hiatus to take a look at the recent goings-on at Fashion Rio, where we celebrated the success of the Wallpaper* Born in Brazil issue. Here, Godfrey Deeny sets the scene and rounds up the best in show.
If there is one runway season that best captures the smouldering sensuality of a city - while indelibly marking it as the sexiest spot on the planet - it would have to be Fashion Rio.
Armed with perfect tans while backlit by the dazzling sunshine, Brazil's in-crowd descended on Rio de Janeiro in the first week of June for an ebullient Electric Ladyland moment of tropical high prints, post runway parties festooned by leggy beauties, live samba dancing, telenovella stars and politico celeb fest at Pier Maua. The latter, by the way, is a convenient snap shot of Brazil's larger ambitions. When fully completed, the elongated waterfront warehouse complex - emerging from a R$3 billion makeover - will include a giant contemporary art centre and a spanking new multi-stadia metro line. Meanwhile, in the next bay, Brazil's richest man Eike Batista is remaking the storied zone of Flamengo with a R$80 million restoration of the 1920s classic Gloria Hotel.
But back to the fashion. Launched some 15 years ago by impresario Paolo Borges, Fashion Rio now boasts a R$14m budget, easily besting London while rivalling the other grand slam seasons in Milan, New York and Paris.
And there was plenty to show for all that money. Alone among the BRIC quartet, Brazil effortlessly showcased the blazing fashion talent that is making the global front row sit up and pay attention.
From start to finish, the clobber on the catwalks was upbeat, not least the English country garden on acid Photoshop prints in a bravura show by Espaço Fashion; humanoid neon print T-shirts at Ausländer; hippie raffia totes in Totem; and, just to prove the point that fashion knows no limits, Liberty surf boots at New Order.
Lenny Niemeyer put on the season's best show, proving once again why she is arguably the best swimwear designer today - the Manolo Blahnik or Christian Louboutin of the strand. With a desert theme - a galleon's worth of rigging ropes transformed an ingenious sand-dune-like tarpaulin set into a gigantic, looming, Sahara sky - Lenny sent out wonderfully dusky bikinis and leotards with architectural shapes alongside a series of great tops, tunics and wraps in muddy abstract prints. Accompanied by a mesmerising soundtrack (a very cool remix of Massive Attack's Paradise Circus), her troupe of the best of the new generation of Brazilian catwalk models effortlessly created yet another defining fashion moment for which she received a well-deserved standing ovation at the show's finale. You heard it here first: Lenny Niemeyer's structural one-piece, a siren-esque fit on model Barbara Berger, will be copied worldwide.
Definitely worth keeping an eye on are the artfully brilliant labels New Order and Osklen, both by the dashing Latvian-Brazilian Oskar Metsavhat. The latter is a global brand in the making, gaining a devoted following for its mélange of recyclable materials and Oscar Niemeyer-influenced curves.
The week's best men's show was by British Colony. Making a very welcome return to the catwalk after a four-year hiatus, designer Maxime Perelmuter gave us expressionist fauna shorts, sleek calico jackets and the men's accessory of the season, a stovepipe straw hat.
The honour for the coolest It Gal event went to Juliana Jabour's Mexican-inspired floral hibiscus tops and ruffled skirts; while the most elegant collection for grown-ups was Printing's colonial embroidered linen chic.
Post show, the smart set decamped to Londra, the Fasano hotel's impossible-to-get-into dance bar. Amid Philippe Starck's wood and white linen pleasure palace - framed by a perfect Ipanema sunset, rooftop pool and some of the planet's most beautiful people - weary fashionistas revived and regrouped.
Just in time for the party to end all parties, and to draw the curtain on another memorably fabulous Fashion Rio: Wallpaper's Born in Brazil bash. 500 Caipirinha-fuelled VIPs - among them, fashion designers, models, telenovella stars and Mayor Eduardo Paes himself - grooved the night away to Dj Zé Pedro's samba-funk, while exchanging fervent promises to do it all again next season.