Mapping Brazil - Fashion: Fresh Promising Design

The 2015 update on fashion in Brazil – by Paulo Borges and Camila Silva
Exhibition at São Paulo Fashion Week


For many years, Brazil has battled against the stereotype of an unbridled tropical paradise, the fairy godmother land of soccer, samba and caipirinhas only. Such elements are indeed strong in the country, but fashion design – along with art, architecture and object design – has had a strong role in taking the country’s creative power beyond this long-fantasised image.

While names such as Alexandre Herchcovitch, Oskar Metsavaht and his brand Osklen, and Pedro Lourenço (the prodigy child and now acclaimed designer son of fashion designers Gloria Coelho and Reinaldo Lourenço) continue to enjoy international appreciation, a new generation of designers are to be watched with close attention. They are making their way in Brazil and abroad, gauging their spot in the line-up of São Paulo Fashion Week – the most important fashion week in the Southern hemisphere – and are being awarded top positions in international rankings or having their collections curated as part of ‘best of the year’ international fashion exhibitions.

Since the fashion-focused media outlet ‘Business of Fashion’ started publishing its list of the world’s 500 most influential fashion personalities in 2013, 19 Brazilian names have been mentioned in its rankings. Five of them are behind fashion brands – Alexandre Herchcovitch, Pedro Lourenço, Patrícia Vieira, Oskar Metsavaht and Natalie Klein, responsible for the NK label, one of São Paulo’s young society favourites.

Brazilian fashion design has been gaining international recognition thanks to a diverse team of creators such as Alexandre Herchcovitch, Francisco Costa at Calvin Klein, Lucas Nascimento in the UK, Pedro Lourenço, Oskar Metsavaht behind Osklen, and also through the poetry and culturally-permeated universe of Ronaldo Fraga, who had some of his creations shown in the exhibition Designs of the Year at the London Design Museum for the past couple of years. ‘Girl power’ has also been popping up on the runways. Six of the seven designer brands that recently made their debuts in the São Paulo Fashion Week line-up are led by women.

Patrícia Bonaldi is a young phenomenon with a strong sense of entrepreneurship that perfectly matches her creative talents. In spite of being just in her early twenties, she already runs three labels: Patrícia Bonaldi, Apartamento 03 and PatBo, this last one especially enjoying international success. In early 2015, an item from PatBo’s Spring Sumer 15/16 Collection was chosen by the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) to represent outstanding international creations in the exhibition Global Fashion Capitals, which will also present a piece designed by Alexandre Herchcovitch. Patrícia Bonaldi is a young fashion designer recognised for her deep understanding of needlework who brings precious handcrafted embroidery with a fresh, modern appeal. In fact, the ability to create beautiful handcraft is one of Brazil’s key aesthetic aspects. Patrícia Bonaldi built her fame and identity with the couture label that bears her name. By now, the Patrícia Bonaldi label has reached 140 stores in Brazil and stores in 20 countries in Europe, North America and the Middle East, including Harrods in the United Kingdom. Her second label, PatBo, was launched in 2012 and soon became a hit among stylish celebrities in Brazil. Bonaldi spread her collection through 85 stores in the country and had her pieces ordered by landmark international department stores. Recently she acquired the label Apartamento 03.

Lolita Zurita Hannoud became famous and successful by transforming the traditional national talent for knit work into high-design fashion pieces. Her brand Lolitta starred during the São Paulo Fashion Week in 2014, along with brands such as Giuliana Romanno, whose blueprint is sharp tailoring. By that time, Lolita was already a favourite luxury brand of female consumers and selling at Daslu, the ‘Brazilian Harrods’. After three fashion seasons, she recently opened a flagship store at the Iguatemi shopping mall in São Paulo, one of Brazil’s most established retail fashion addresses. Creating sought-after pieces with knit work can also be attributed to Gina Guerra, the designer behind GIG Couture. Her elaborate pieces were already a big hit in Europe – she has a showroom in Paris – before her brand splashed across all the Brazilian fashion media when she entered the São Paulo Fashion Week line-up. The very season she started launching collections in São Paulo, her rich designs with a strong handmade appeal had already been on the market elsewhere for ten years.

But apart from the strong presence of successful women, it is important to mention the fast-growing fame of the designer Vitorino Campos. The way his collections are reviewed by the media prove that this is not the excitement of a ‘moment’; the designer is a true global fashion talent. At a very young age, and after showing collections for only two years at the São Paulo Fashion Week, he was named ‘Best Brazilian Designer’ by various publications. Soon he was invited to become the designer for Animale; this Brazilian ready-to-wear brand has been enjoying great success ever since. Vitorino Campos is a name to be remembered, along with a long-standing Brazilian fashion ‘dream team’ that includes names like Alexandre Herchcovitch, Andrea Marques, Eduardo Pombal, Gloria Coelho, Lenny Niemeyer, Oskar Metsavaht, Paula Raia, Pedro Lourenço and Reinaldo Lourenço.

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