Brazilian Fashion Knitting A Wintry Identity

Jason Campbell

If Brazilian fashion is to take hold on a global scale, it first needs to change the common perception of its lazy beach and surf image. But, as FashionRio’s strong autumn/winter ’11 collections showed last week, many of the country’s promising designers are doing just that by finding a wintry identity in knitwear, some of which is tinged with elements of the avant-garde.

Like the young Brazilian Pedro Lourenço who has been buzzing at Paris Fashion Week the last two seasons, Lucas Nascimento illustrated that the most promising Brazilian fashion is in the younger generation with global exposure already under its belt. In his fourth outing and strongest to date, the 24-year-old, Minas Gerais-born, London-trained Nascimento turned out a color blocked knitwear collection that was precise, subtly sensual and startlingly perfect. Saffrons, blues, tourmaline greens and pinkish purples were harmoniously combined in sculptural forms and cocoon, cape-like coats as well as below the knee skirts and dresses. In his youthful and accurate view of today’s world, Nascimento sees clothing’s protective and comforting role in our lives and has built upon this armorial, signature over the seasons. The strategically placed cut-outs, which exposed just enough flesh in the mostly covered up looks, were key to showing off a touch sensuality, while also exhibiting Nascimento’s deft skill in construction. Rounding out the look, the color block footwear created in collaboration with Klaus Jurgen Schmidt were some of the best accessories seen on the runway all week.

Another Minas Gerais export, Printing, a brand we’ve called the “Dries Van Noten of Brazil,” continues to deliver powerful collections. This season, its creative director Márcia Queiroz worked with a newfound lightness and tropical brightness. Her image of a fantastical winter went for a moody floral print offset by acidic blues, corals, hot pinks and yellows in boldly flowing and long asymmetrical satins, chiffons and knits. The dresses and skirts were paired with sloping heavy coats, embroidered oversized vests and cool chunky knits and jacquards in contracting brown, green and other wintry tones. This hard/soft balance also featured beautiful details such as chain stitched sequins and crystals circling pockets and brightening hemlines as well as metal accents at the backs of long cool knits.

The marriage of fine knits and shiny features was arguably best captured at Coven. Fitted short dressed—some of which unexpectedly turned out in tartan prints—shimmied in metallic yarns and dangling beads. Meanwhile, effortless knitted techniques were shown off in animal prints and Prince of Wales patterned bombers, soft tailored Chanel-esque jackets and must-have cigarette pants. This runway to street-ready collection was a triumph for this highly underrated brand.

Andrea Marques, meanwhile, has seen her share of hits and misses since her departure from Maria Bonita Extra, but seemed to find her stride with a ’70s American sportswear-inspired collection that had editors swooning. Models practically bounced down the runway in bow tie satin blouses, smart printed day dresses, lacey skinny pants shown with long skinny belted jackets and dresses showing off diaphanous cut-outs and a lot of swing. These dresses will no doubt be the most coveted of the season. Over at Marques’ former employer, Maria Bonita Extra went with a sweaty ballerina theme, showing transparent short shiny skirts over sheer leggings, fly-away chiffon tops and après-dance knits, hoodies and a few standout floral short dresses.

In stark contrast to all of this lightness, Walter Rodrigues is recognized for his nearly all-black austerity. Intensely Japanese in influence, this season’s jackets came in a variety of dramatic silhouettes along with long vests, softened with ecstatic manga prints, while striped t-shirts rounded out his collection.

More commercial brands such as Redley and Cantão also found a firm groove this season. Redley’s heavy emphasis on unstructured layered shapes made the Rick Owens-inspired look their own by twisting and draping seams, and playing with fun optical effects with layered transparent fabrics over a variety of trippy stripes. It was all about fun at Cantão with a presentation held in an outdoor park and featuring a parade of models in a mashup of printed arty streetwear, long and short dresses, overalls and slouchy pants that showed off a host of design details from printing, embroidery to felting and paint splattering.

The most prevalent detailing that emerged from the week was the trend for all things that glittered. Paillette covered slinky sporty dresses at Alessa and Acqua Studio, golden threading and oversized pailliettes at Patachou and bold crystal buttons at Giulia Borges. FashionRio was truly shining in many ways this season.




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