- FashionUnited |
The 47th edition of São Paulo Fashion Week (SPFW), the most important event in the Brazilian fashion calendar, was marked by an unprecedented tragedy which symbolizes its recent decay. 25-year old model Tales Soares died after passing out on the runway, halfway through Ocksa’s fashion show.
His death sparked controversy on social media, especially because the show continued after the model was removed from the runway by firefighters and taken to the nearby hospital where he passed away. After Soares’ death was confirmed, SPFW’s organizers met with the brands, executives, stylists and models that were scheduled to work in the subsequent shows and, together, they decided to go on with the program despite the emotional shock, holding a minute of silence before each show.
This sad fact is the latest in a succession of discouraging events around SPFW. Big brands have exited the fashion week in recent times, following a change of address to a somewhat degraded location, not to mention the visible lack of infrastructure (only the backstage was equipped with air conditioning, for example). On social media, many started to question: does a fashion week still make sense in our digital era? Are big brands still relevant? How can the fashion industry innovate to become more humane and sustainable? Is Soares’ death the symbol of a fashion industry that continues to exploit workers? How to revert this situation?
Brazilian designers comment on current issues at São Paulo Fashion Week
Most fashion designers who participated in the 47th SPFW used the runway to protest, reflect on recent events or even call for more optimism, including João Pimenta, Ronaldo Fraga, LED and Projeto Ponto Firme.
João Pimenta stressed the importance of artists sticking together in a discouraging cultural scenario. Woven fabric waste was used as base for his flawless tailoring in oversized suits and pants that were dramatically embroidered and dyed. Lace, velvet and twill were also among the materials used. But the biggest eyecatcher was, without a doubt, the flowy embroidered dresses combined with wide, padded coats.
Ronaldo Fraga found inspiration in “Guerra” (“War”) and “Paz” (“Peace”), two paintings by Candido Portinari (1903-1962), one of the most important painters in Brazilian history. Fraga tried to reimagine what the paintings would look like if Portinari were to paint them again today. His energetic show gave several nods to the troubled times Brazil is currently going through, with prints of tied up hands and the face of Marielle Franco, a Rio de Janeiro councilwoman and human rights activist executed last year. “Who killed Marielle Franco?” has become a rallying question in polarized Brazil, raised in graffiti and written across banners during demonstrations. Military helmets adorned with flowers were paired with flower print dresses alluding to Brazil’s endangered flora and fauna.
Embroidery depicting the face of Marielle Franco in Ronaldo Fraga’s show at the 47th SPFW
Helmet with books bearing the words “Philosophy”, “History” and “Geography”. Brazil’s far-right president Jair Bolsonaro has recently announced plans to remove humanities from the school curriculum and stop financing research in the humanities altogether.
Célio Dias, Creative Director of newcomer LED, named his collection “Zangada” (“Angry”), in a nod to an illustration saying “ninguém larga a mão de ninguém” (“don’t let go of anybody’s hand”) which went viral on social media after the election of Brazil’s far-right president Jair Bolsonaro, best known for his remarks against minorities. The collection is dominated by clochard pants, matching suit sets and overalls, as well as by crochet and embroidery typical of the Minas Gerais region, where the label is headquartered. Dias also played with wool, technological fabrics, vinyl and fake fur.
Swimwear: sophistication and nostalgia
Brazil is a swimwear powerhouse, which is why there were five brands of this segment in the 47th SPFW, namely Lenny, Amir Slama, Haight, Borana and Trya. What was seen on the runways was a self-restrained beachwear, focusing on pieces to be worn “after the beach” such as long, flowy dresses in light fabrics like organza and mousseline.
Haight, one of the newcomers of the season, got off to a good start with a color palette of beige, red, black and white, featured in textured jumpsuits, hot pants and one-piece swimsuits. Tunics and wide pants in light fabrics also had a strong presence in the collection.
Amir Slama, best known for his work at Rosa Chá, one of Brazil’s biggest swimwear brands, presented a potpourri of past works, bringing sexy one-piece swimsuits and bikinis in several styles, from the small, revealing pieces Brazil is best known for to more modest hot pants.
Borana caught the audience’s eye with its handmade crochet and macrame swimwear, combined with details in denim, while Trya brought colorful pieces with ethnic prints inspired by the Incas.
Promising brand alert: Korshi01
The starting brand, founded by self-taught designer Pedro Korshi, is marked by versatility: each piece serves more than one purpose. Skirts become corsets, pants can be transformed into skirts or blouses… “Some of my pieces can be worn in up to seven different ways. I think multiplicity helps people to optimize their wardrobe and own less clothes”, the designer told FashionUnited.Original text in Portuguese: Marta De Divitiis. Translated and edited by Marjorie van Elven. Pictures: courtesy of SPFW via Agência Fotosite