ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED AT VOGUE.COM, APRIL 2016.
Forget the moods that seem to be taking over fashion for a moment (read: Vetements and Gucci); something quite different altogether was transpiring at the first day of Saõ Paulo Fashion Week. In the midst of Brazil’s political tumult, a reimagined tropical mood emerged on the catwalks. Summed up neatly by designer Patricia Bonaldi: “We are living in such a pessimistic moment that I have decided to pay homage to Brazil’s greatest things: the color, the art, the joy, and the happiness. Crises come and go, but we can’t forget who we are.”
Indeed, there is nothing like Fashion Week to change the mood and the headlines. Osklen, one of the country’s most established brands, invited us to escape into a utopic paradise. “I reflected a lot about the recession. It’s not only economical, and I am afraid we might lose all the accomplishments from the past 20 years,” said designer Oskar Metsavaht. Usually inspired by the wonders of his native Rio de Janeiro, this season found Metsavaht’s creations comparatively low-key. There was no runway and no models, for one. A handful of journalists were invited to visit Osklen’s newest shop in Vila Madalena, a bohemian neighborhood of São Paulo, as the designer moved through the room, explaining the collection; also on offer was a selection of shoppable pieces.
While Metsavaht turned away from the local mood, São Paulo’s new generation of designers took cues from their native country, among them Lilly Sarti and Lolita Zurita Hannud. “My collection is colorful and vibrant,” offered Hannud. “There is no black in my color palette this season. Brazilian women must be strong right now and my collection reflects this mood.” Bonaldi, with her label PatBo, presented elements of Brazil in a new, explicit perspective: “It’s tough not to be literal while using the colors of our flag,” joked the designer, who mingled the strong yellow and green of Brazil with earth tones in a series of densely embroidered prints.
Karl Lagerfeld, who wasn’t in town, feted his collaboration with fast-fashion chain Riachuelo with a fittingly massive production. Said Pier Paolo Righi, CEO of Karl Lagerfeld: “We are not concerned with the crisis. If we would have had that same political situation one year ago, we would have done the Brazil collection anyway. The people are the same. They are joyful. Brazilians resonate with the brand and life goes on. When horrible attacks happened in Paris some time ago, we didn’t close the store and stay home. Here, it’s the same.”
Though Lagerfeld himself wasn’t present, supermodel Isabeli Fontana did a bang-up job as his doppelgänger. Lagerfeld signatures like houndstooth and fingerless gloves abounded in the lineup, and when the show was done, racks were rolled down the runway—much to the surprise of the guests—and all the collection was for immediate sale, from prices ranging between $15 and $100. Now that’s truly fast fashion.