After the blockbuster success of Claro Rio Summer in November, last week’s Fashion Rio was met with a challenge of maintaining its dominance as Rio de Janeiro’s main fashion event. Claro Rio’s star-studded fanfare was tough to beat, but Fashion Rio’s lackluster winter collections didn’t make the organizers’ efforts—the results predictably lacked sizzle and a headliner.
The theme of the season was “Rio, Brazilian Cultural Kaleidoscope,” a celebration of carioca culture’s diversity, with particular emphasis on the Lapa area. (To get a sense of Lapa’s cultural dynamism, spend a Friday night at one of the neighborhood’s famed street parties.) Film director Ricardo Nauenberg reinterpreted Lapa’s landmark arches to create an arresting mise-en-scène erected on the Fashion Rio setting at Marina de Gloria. All this same, the set was not enough to replace a slick, European worthy runway presentation by labels such as Lenny, whose summer-only collection was sorely missed this season.
Walter Rodrigues, a respected presence in Rio, was safely pared down, showing several LBDs, many decorated with punchy gold appliqués on velour frocks, and a series of maxi patchwork dresses in dark hues that could run the gamut from Rick Owens to Yohji Yamamoto and Donna Karan. Meanwhile, Victor Dzenk continues to leverage his social charms into a robust business of unoriginal print dresses fawned over by starlets and socialites. For his part, Dzenk was thrilled at the outcome of his show and felt buoyed by a “profitable business.”
Printing duo Daniel Rodrigues and Julia Valle’s runway entry was so polished, it got the buyers and editors excited in a similar manner as 6267 did two years ago. The collection featured a pattern reminiscent of an Italian imprint wrapped up in Art Deco spirit, along with fitted, layered dresses with rich satins, brocades and embroidery incorporating resin as well as standout Chunky Murano-inspired necklaces.
Juliana Jabour’s show clearly illustrated that she is being groomed for headliner status. Her solid backing, local hipster status and social connections are helping to raise her stock at Fashion Rio, but her collection has yet to live up to the fanfare. Though solidly made, the short, simple dresses, slouchy parkas and secretary silk blouses came across as somewhat disjointed. Jabour succeeded with knits, showing several long sweater dresses and tops as well as a few pieces with glitzy palettes snaking the body of the garment.
In fact, modern knits emerged as the most noted trend of the week. Coven, for one, has done away with their previous fabric distractions to completely focus on knitwear—with smashing results. The weaves for autumn/winter ’09 are designed to create optical illusions, giving off the appearance of texture where the fabric sits flat and the impression of lines where there aren’t any. Colors such as burnt orange, teal, deep purple and navy blue derived from designer Liliane Rebehy’s experimental techniques.
We could have taken a miss on designer Yame Reis’ Pocahontas-themed Cantao presentation, which seemed set for the South American Pampas. But if you strip away the cacophony of embroidery and drawings, one of the collection’s best pieces was an artisanal tricot design—some oversized in graphic snowflake patterns and falling off the body in a way reminiscent of Stella McCartney knits. Newcomer Virgina Francisca’s natural fluid shapes were punctuated by one standout olive green version of a shrug that will surely be a hot order from the new entry. Meanwhile, sportswear giant Redley’s designer Jurgen Oeltjenbruns brought richness to his mass-friendly pieces with chunky sweaters in muted colors—a central expression in his sustainable themed collection with the jungle serving as backdrop.
While it wasn’t Fashion Rio’s most notable season, the sheer number of events from confident designers (many of who have sound businesses at home) will not suffer from the lack of overseas interest. And that’s a good thing.