New Roots At Fashion Rio

Jason Campbell

While Fashion Rio sprouted fresh roots in ownership and location this season, the strong collections that came down the runway for spring/summer ’10 played their part to support the recent explosion of fashion related investments in Brazil. To inaugurate the change of management and new identity, creative director Paulo Borges appropriately transplanted the event from Marina de Gloria to Pier Mauá, a stunning sprawl of warehouses on Guanabara Bay.

Given the seasonal outlook, the collections showed swimsuits in full force. Salinas featured soft pastel floral prints with lovely bow accents, while Luiza Bonadiman showed geometric cut-outs on experimental body suits and Lenny was all about chic body con looks. The bikinis seemed even smaller than usual this season what with all the aggressive slashing, tying and folding, but the tropical prints and tangy colors helped to soften the overall feel.

Victor Dzenk’s chic sensations—maritime prints, sweeping silk robes and slinky party dresses—were inspired by the south of France and other far-flung destinations. “This collection represents the spirit of travel and celebration,” he gushed after the show, adding: “My DNA is more and more clothing for the beach.” When Dzenk hits the right notes, as he did this season, it’s truly thrilling to see all the loyal support from celebrities and local followers.

At Maria Bonita Extra, Mallu Magalhães injected a hot spark of energy for the Marc by Marc Jacobs and Isabel Marant set. The collection included tons of purple and tangerine separates as well as one group with a mushroom print that particularly stood out. Circular prints reigned, meanwhile, at the less established but widely regarded Alessa. And at the ever improving Apoena, designer Katia Ferreira showed embroidery on top of stripes and polka dots paired with easy printed t-shirts inspired by the “curves and straight lines” in Brasilia. This collection read less like an NGO project and more like a cute emerging line for the twenty/thirty-something set. Lots of embroidery was also seen in Santa Ephigênia’s bohemian themed collection—most notably, clusters of circular paillettes and oversized polka dots.

In one of its most creative shows to date, Coven applied masterful knitting techniques to flirty dresses in the finest yarns, playing with a soft/heavy idea where chunky open hole cardigans in red and burnt orange anchored lightly ruffled and knitted swingy dresses. By contrast, Redley looked especially smooth. The easy t-shirts and low-slung shorts for men were propped up by tiered summer dresses with bold color accents and prints, as well as treated denim for women.

One of the most promising categories to show was the market for contemporary casuals, perpetuated by brands such as Cantao, which pumps out massive collections to service the niche. Cantao’s looks were more tribal, but picked up on the season’s trend for carrot trousers paired with cut-off shirts, body skiming dresses and gladiator sandals.

This genre for casual wear looked more solid than ever, but Rio really knows how to do glamour as well. Printing is on our top ten list of brands to watch in the world, turning out a kind of show-stopping chic that’s razor sharp. Walter Rodrigues, who’s prone toward avant-garde glam, is seeking business this season in tailored pants, t-shirts and diaphanous tops. Graça Ottoni, meanwhile, went for jewel toned knee- and floor-length bias cut satin with some sleeves fashioned out of organza to bring in unexpected yet controlled volume.

The collections are only one sign that Brazil is edging its way to first world status. One tidbit of intelligence we uncovered on our trip is that Petrobas, the petroleum behemoth, has located a massive oil reserve that’ll take seven years to reach in the earth’s core but when that time comes, the find is so vast that it may instantly propel Brazil’s international identity. The s/s ’10 collections showed that when this time comes, there will be loads of fabulous brands to choose from.

—Jason Campbell