“It’s not a political statement, it’s a dream” said Walter Rodrigues about sending all black models down the runway in the opening collection yesterday at FashionRio.
Inspired by a recent trip to the Pernambuco, a northern region of Brazil with a large community of African descents and by Hans Sylvester photos of the Omo River Valley tribes in Ethiopia; Rodrigues was equally struck by the poverty and the beauty of blacks in his country and set out to address both issues in his presentation.
To produce his loosely structured military suits, body-conscious jersey separates in browns and navy blue, and chic shift dresses with topstitched chiffon paillettes; Rodrigues employed women from the Quipapa region of Pernambuco. These ladies had never sewed before but were empowered with the skill set through Rodrigues personal and professional journey.
And why all black models to illustrate his point? “Well, the model agents in Brazil always go to the South to scout, and mostly white people are in the South,” he explained backstage yesterday. “They never go to the north,” he continued. Up and coming model, Lorraine Cruz chimed in, “ the market doesn’t really support us,” she said. “ For Walter, this was a form of protest, he considered the color of the model’s skin in designing each of these pieces.” And it amounted to one of Rodrigues’ best collections in recent past.