Sao Paolo is a vast, impressive metropolis on a scale that’s incomparable to most of the cities I travel to. Last week, while I traveled to and from fashion shows, business meetings or social excursions–which took me to several parts of the city–I remained in awe of the stunning skyscrapers, and the many thickets of neighborhoods a town that I’ve only made a dent in exploring. Several years ago, Sao Paolo Fashion Week was on my regular rotation but for about two years, in the interest of lessening my time away from the office, I’ve opted only cover Fashion Rio. It was time to return.
I forgot how many friends I have in Sao Paolo. At every turn, it was a reunion. At the shows, at a hotel visit, in restaurants shrieks of Jaaaason came from everywhere. I wasn’t always good with remembering the names, but the faces were immediately registered. I was left humbled by the genuineness the smiles, and the curiosity of the people. There’s a lot other cultures could learn from the power of positive energy exhibited by Brazilians. I’m gushing, I know, but I was really taken by outpouring of love and good cheers during my entire 3-week stay in the country from Rio to Paraty to Sao Paolo.
The overall energy was buoyed by the stellar season at SPFW. Several designers showed standout collections (read my top ten rundown next week), confirming that SPFW stands first in line among the secondary fashion markets.
Outside of the shows, I indulged in scouting out great dining spots, a relatively easy fishing expedition in a city teeming with really good food. Ritz restaurant (Alameda Franca, 1088) the Jardims hotspot since 1981 is like a cafeteria, always packed with the hipster set and hot gay boys. You can’t make a reservation and there’s always a wait that creates a fantastic peacock-y street scene. The food is tasty and a trip to SP wouldn’t be complete without a few Ritz meals. Flavia Mendonca, our Brazilian correspondent suggested that I check out Dalva e Dito (Rua Joao Manuel 1115). It’s Flavia’s favorite SP restaurant, which was all the endorsement I needed before bee lining to this favored haunt of the business set. Needing to power down by myself, one night I sat on the terrace where potted plants cascading from the rooftop, and noshed on a delicious filet of sea bass and kale. Dalva immediately found itself on my world’s best list of restaurants. Needing another fix, Flavia and I went again for lunch the day before I left SP. At the Tivoli Mofarrej where I stayed, Arola Vintretres(Alameda Santos, 1437) there rooftop restaurant specializing in tapas wasn’t exactly a homerun but the stunning 360 degrees view and the obvious convenience to my room made it acceptable choice for a couple meals. One of my favorite new discoveries was Z Deli (Alameda Lorena, 1214), a deli style Yiddish restaurant run by Rosa Raw in Jardims. Rosa operates the restaurant with her sister-in-law and they’re both an absolute hoot. The deli is in the middle of the retail hub where all the designers have stores: Alexandre Herchovitch, Maria Bonita, Oscar Metsavaht of Osklen, Reinaldo Lourenco, among others and are all regular patrons. The ladies have a wealth of information on these designers so you can expect a healthy serving of gossip with your blinis and breaded chicken breasts. I talked divorces, financial ruin and rebuild, and depression brought on bad reviews with the ladies in the two hours I sad there for lunch while the famous contemporary artist Nelson Leirner dined nearby. An absolute treat and highlight from my trip.
Dining was enough entertainment for the week but on Thursday, I decided that I couldn’t leave SP without hitting up some of fashion events. Most of them kicked off at about 2am which is way past my bedtime. I did however make it to Alexandre Herchovitch post show party at Bar Secreto(Rua Álvaro Anes, 97) where he also dejayed and a bunch of teenagers and early somethings came out to support. I felt my age and fled at about 3am. On Friday, at Gloria Club (Rua Treze de Maio, 830) it was a sort of the unofficial closing party for SPFW. All the models turned out, many of the editors were spotted in the audience and the unlikely scene of uber journalist Lillian Pace was spinning the turntables. The crowd skewed young there too and after of couple hours of semi-dancing and listening to the crowd go wild for Lady Gaga and Black Eyed Peas; it was time to go.