2010 June 14

Runway Reviews: Sao Paulo Fashion Week, Weekend Edition

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Neon already has something of a following in the States (it´s sold at Opening Ceremony, if that gives any context), but it´s positively cult-like in Brazil---think Heatherette circa 2006, minus a good amount of the kitsch. For Spring, designers Dudu Bertholini and Rita Comparato took the surf/scuba route, going all the way with a standout presentation around a pool in a huge stadium. Not surprisingly, neoprene was a major part of the show, whether in sporty colorblocked swimsuits, acid green high-waisted jeans (expect these at OC), and some seriously innovative frocks, one in teal and orange with a giant fan pleat at one shoulder, the other in white and hot pink. The kitsch came in the form of an enormous bow-bedecked skirt and a trench made out of what could have been a printed shower curtain, but Neon´s rabid fans ate it all up. Post show, eight girls came out clad in swim caps and suits, each one sporting an N, E, O, or N, and they dove into the pool and swam laps during the finale. An adrenaline-packed presentation? Sure, but instead of being all show, Neon´s fabulous and fun collection made a few new fans---for those who weren´t already.

Maria Bonita
There is always plenty of flash (and flesh) on display at a Brazilian fashion week, but Maria Bonita (who shows her bridge line, Maria Bonita Extra, at Fashion Rio) offered a refreshingly pared-down collection for Spring. Inspired by photographer Anna Mariani's architecture images, wood played a huge role in the collection, ranging from the wearable---bags, flip flops---to the not-so-practical, like a bandeau constructed from large wooden tiles. A cami and frock covered in a smaller version of the mosaic-like wood treatment were impressive additions, but her study in texture wasn't limited to wood. Knitwear was composed of a mix of cotton and stainless steel for a surprisingly effortless crinkled material, which made up separates like high-waisted culottes, jackets, and many a utilitarian overall-ish onesie. Sexy? Absolutely not. But Brazil's bases are covered as far as sexy is concerned, which makes these offerings all the more refreshing.

Reinaldo Lourenco
The reigning king of Sao Paulo Fashion Week, Reinaldo Lourenco showed his collection off-site at the gorgeous Fundacao Armando Alvares Penteado (a university known as FAAP). Citing both cars and 1960s haute couture as his inspiration (two seemingly disparate elements that actually came together relatively seamlessly), Reinaldo stuck to a palette of black, white, neon pink, and fire engine red---or maybe Camaro red? The auto side came through in sporty piping, graphic, streamlined seams, and volume at the back of dresses and blouses that one could only describe is windblown. As far as the couture, though it´s a more ambitious claim, Reinaldo's intricate workmanship was evident: tightly embroidered ribbon on a sheer blouse set the standard, which was followed up by elaborate rosette-texture dresses that were pretty without crossing over into precious--thanks, in great part, the aforementioned sporty touches. Separates like solid minis, a great pair of cigarette trousers, and an abstract print that mimicked lace came in t-shirt form; easy options that take the couture down a notch without losing any of Lourenco´s signature style.

The curtains that darkened Sala 1, the hall where the Animale show took place, were drawn on Saturday afternoon, exposing floor-to-ceiling windows and a gorgeous view of the green park of Ibirapuera. Marching in though the wide open door from the outside? Raquel Zimmermann, the big-ticket catwalker for this show, and a futuristic, sporty array of mostly minidresses pieced together from technical mesh, stiff knits, sheer panels, and plastics (the latter of which has been a constant if not terribly practical textile of the week). Busy? It sounds like it, but each look was streamlined and came in neutral shades, from an array of beiges to a pale slate gray. The only shot of color came in a bright violet, which added interest without interrupting the show´s palette. There were shades of Balenciaga´s techno-warrior girl---there are worse references---but Animale´s designers Marta Ciribelli and Priscila Darolt (who presented her strong eponymous collection on day one) had a clear vision that made for a successful collection.

Adriana Degreas
SPFW newcomer Adriana Degreas (she showed in Rio last season) brought out the big guns for her Sao Paulo debut: Eva Herzigova opened and closed her show. And while the legendary super---who looked flawless on the catwalk---certainly brought a bit of excitement to the room, Degreas´ creations would have made a splash even without the buzz. The young designer was inspired by pool parties, but cutoff shorts and bikini tops this wasn´t. If Marchesa decides to get into swimwear, Degreas is the one to call. Luxe sophistication and gorgeous craftsmanship came together in beautiful beading, sculpted corset tops, blouson-topped bodysuits, and lounge-y (but still glamorous) wrap gowns. Where do you wear these stunning but decidedly pants-less pieces? Sure, they´re pool party-appropriate (if there was such a thing as a black-tie pool party), but throw a pair of tuxedo trousers over one of the rosette-topped suits, and you´ll be ready to hit the gala circuit. Who else can say that about their swimwear?

Simone Nunes
Oddly enough, it's winter in Sao Paulo at the moment (it's that whole Southern Hemisphere thing), so when a collection like Simone Nunes' comes along, it's just the thing to make one crave a more tropical climate. Inspired by Bahia (a Brazilian state northeast of Sao Paulo) in the 1970s, the collection was sporty and beachy without ever crossing into Roxy-esque territory; colors were a bit muted, fabrics were rumpled, and any swimsuits in sight were colorblocked, high-necked one-pieces---a far cry from the slews of bikinis on display for the last few days. Empire-waist sundresses and long skirts had all the ease you might expect a bohemian surfer chick wanting in her daytime wardrobe, and though night stayed just as beach-friendly, sheer linen layers muted sequined skirts and dresses.

Samuel Cirnansck
Halloween parties were the jumping off point for Samuel Cirnansck's Spring 2011 collection, and he didn't hold back. Models walking down the runway navigated oversized jack-o-lanterns while wearing sequined tunics that sported black cats, witches, pumpkins, bats, and owls. Once he got past the uber-literal Halloween part, Cirnansck tackled the party part of the inspiration: micro-micro mini dresses in gold lame, black lace, and patent leather---not for the faint of heart. If his result veered way into kitsch, at least his technical chops were impressive; one sculpted black bodysuit was not entirely unlike the Thierry Mugler wardrobe Beyonce wore on her latest tour. Hey, we hear Mugler's looking for a new creative director...

Undoubtedly the crasher magnet of the season, Colcci brought the one thing that was missing from Sao Paulo Fashion Week: Gisele Bundchen, of course. The legendary model---who drew massive security efforts around the show space---hit the runway three times, once entirely by herself, and one more time with the designer at the end of the show. Clearly, the focus was on her, not the clothes, and as it should be; the brand is one for streetwear, not couture. Microminis, jeans in bright pastel shades, bright polka dot frocks, and so many entirely sheer tops that it became clear that this show was really all about the show. (Brazilian actor Reynaldo Gianecchini also took the runway, eliciting cheers just short of Gisele-level.) Bundchen is the longtime face of the brand---a smart marketing move to ensure the most hyped-up show of SPFW, regardless of the collection.

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