Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Of Heroic Dragons and Intrepid Designers: Dragão Fashion Brasil celebrates 15 years of promoting Brazilian sartorial talent

Brazil’s history has it that on 27 January 1881, and after two decades of witnessing the cruelty derived from the pervading slave trade while working in the port of Fortaleza, Francisco José do Nascimento gathered a few of his fellow workers and refused to ferry black slaves imprisoned on the mainland to the moored ships scheduled to carry them to other parts of Brazil. His legendary braveness over the following three days not only blocked many other activities in the port, but also contributed to the abolitionist movement in Ceará (the first state to officially eradicate slavery in Brazil in 1884) and garnered him the legendary title of ‘O Dragão do Mar (“Dragon of the Seas”). As a way to pay homage to his actions, in 1999 the city of Fortaleza inaugurated the ‘Centro Dragão do Mar de Arte e Cultura’, which remains one of Brazil’s largest cultural and educational complexes to date.

Photograph © The Style Examiner / João Paulo Nunes



In the year it opened, and as part of its cultural outreach programme, the Dragão do Mar centre featured the first ever edition of Dragão Fashion Brasil. Organised every year since then by Claudio Silveira with the financial support from commercial partners and local and national government authorities (including the Federal Government of the region of Ceará and the Brazilian Ministry of Culture), the event serves not only as a platform for new and established fashion designers to show their creations, but also entails a public series of lectures, debates, performances, seminars and practical workshops about the importance of fashion and associated creative industries. Anchored by an eclectic creative curatorial intent that is also practical and educational in its purpose, as it celebrated its 15th anniversary in 2014, Dragão Fashion Brasil confirmed its unique role in the global landscape of fashion events.

Between 23 and 27 April, over 45,000 participants made the most of the 2014 Dragão Fashion Brasil by attending at least one of the 40 runway shows where Brazilian and international designers and fashion graduates showed their latest collections, as well as taking part in dozens of presentations and hands-on activities. In addition, the showcase also involved the region’s buoyant manufacturing industry (which includes some of the largest fabric and clothing factories in the world, responsible for employing 115,000 people, producing 116,000 tonnes of fabric, and making 600 million garments a year) in the form of sponsorships and collaborations with emerging designers.

Ivanildo Nunes


Kalil Nepomuceno



If most fashion creations displayed in the Dragão do Mar complex in the bustling centre of Fortaleza demonstrated interesting treatments of experimental concepts, when it came to their developmental process and direction of execution, proficiency levels unsurprisingly varied. However, a large number of brands stood out for their accomplished results and for demonstrating the benefits of quality and creativity to the betterment of society.

In womenswear, the reinterpretation of a traditional ultra-feminine perspective of fashion could be observed in the collections proposed by Kalil Nepomuceno and Ivanildo Nunes. In their designs, long voluminous evening dresses featured layers of chiffon and lace and the silhouettes were overall accentuated in voluptuous hourglass shapes. Drawing from this principle, but allowing a more dynamic fluidity generated by ornamented fabrics, Lino Villaventura presented a collection with a dramatic colour palette that combined dark earthy tones with off-whites, and print came in the form of ombré gradients, abstract florals and animal skin prints. And, in typical Villaventura fashion, large pleats, bejewelled pins and beaded stitching provided textured contours by manipulating the layering and hanging direction of delicate fabrics such as gauze and silk. 

Lino Villaventura


Nico Didonna

Mark Greiner & Roberto Dias



London-based Italian designer Nico Didonna accepted the invitation made by the organisers of Dragão Fashion Brasil and presented a collection underpinned by the notion of wrapping. Plain off-white, royal blue, red, anthracite or hand-painted dresses made from jersey, viscose, or crepe highlighted the natural curves of the body while adjusting to, rather than shaping, the silhouette. Also playing a key role in this broad category, Mark Greiner and Roberto Dias worked together on a unique contemporary reinterpretation of local folklore that relied on strong original touches such as highly structured shoulders and a good treatment of noble fabrics (including chiffons, soft leathers and jacquards), even if, at stages, the final results were let down by the actual styling of the runway presentation.

However, it was when designers opted for exploring minimal lines and structured silhouettes that womenswear collections were at their most successful during the 2014 edition of Dragão Fashion Brasil. In this sense, Vitorino Campos’s fusion of streetwear tailoring with luxurious fabrics (unveiled just a few weeks earlier during São Paulo Fashion Week), Carol Barreto’s asymmetrically fastened garments and structured cuts (that contrasted with oversized crocheted jewellery pieces), Jefferson Ribeiro’s geometric exercises in an elegant colour palette of white, lemon and crimson, and Gisela Franck’s deconstructed garments made from soft fabrics with applications of collage-like layers all contributed a new vocabulary towards the lexicon of Brazilian women’s fashion.
Vitorino Campos
Carol Barreto
Jefferson Ribeiro
Gisela Franck

In menswear, the most accomplished collection was the one that guest designer Nuno Gama presented on the very last day. Well-established in his native Portugal (where he founded his eponymous label in 1991), Gama chose to exhibit and edited version of his Autumn/Winter 2014 collection, where textures and rich materials (including fox fur, snakeskin, astrakhan, leather and thick wools) provided the material frame to extremely fitted cuts. 

Currently enrolled in Milan’s Istituto Marangoni, young designer Jonathan Scarpari took a break from his fashion studies to return to his native Brazil and show his latest collection during Dragão Fashion Brasil. Entitled ‘B-24’, the collection drew inspiration from the idea of incorporating the genetic code into the design of unique garments in order to highlight the importance of individuality. This was achieved by working fabrics such as softened leather through hand-woven three-dimensional houndstooth patterns. In addition, Brazilian and Italian cool wool and organic silk were used in fitted tops, tailored shirts, jackets, trousers, and overalls that showed the influence of recent menswear designs by the likes of J.W. Anderson while audaciously and confidently attempting to push forward the boundaries of conventional tailoring.

Nuno Gama

Jonathan Scampari



Rather than focussing on a single collection, like most designers opted to do in Fortaleza, renowned Brazilian menswear designer Mario Queiroz showed 27 looks that he had designed throughout his 18-year-old career, ranging from conventional suiting and casual staples to more confidently daring kaftans, sleeveless jumpsuits, gold shorts, and sequined espadrilles. Pushing the boundaries quite a few steps further, Weider Silveiro and Jadson Raniere displayed the collection that they presented to inaugurate their label 2|Dois in October 2013. Both alumni of the São Paulo-based creative platform Casa de Criadores, Silveiro and Raniere investigated the potential of deconstructed tailoring, androgynous identities, and the influence of 1980s Japanese designers in details such as exposed stitching and frayed fabrics, elongated sleeves balancing cropped waist lines, oversized leather biker jackets, and abstract patterns supposedly inspired by the futuristic graphic artwork created by Peter Saville for Joy Division’s 1979 album 'Unknown Pleasures'.

When asked to describe 2|Dois to Brazilian followers of fashion, Silveiro and Raniere declared that they hoped it would be ‘a breath of fresh air in a market typified by sameness.’ As their runway show finished and the audience applauded with resounding excitement, there was little doubt that their words would also be most suitable to describe what Dragão Fashion Brasil has achieved over 15 years, and the exciting developments that Brazilian fashion has in store for many more years to come.

Mario Queiroz

2|Dois




Unless otherwise stated, photographs are courtesy of Dragão Fashion Brasil


Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Jonathan Scarpari Spring/Summer 2014/15 Menswear

Hailing from the southern Brazilian state of Santa Catarina, young menswear designer Jonathan Scarpari started being noticed in his home country after taking part in prestigious regional and national talent-spotting competitions such as Entremeios and Movimento Hotspot. A subsequent recognition by Casa de Criadores (the São Paulo-based creative platform responsible for launching the careers of several Brazilian designers) contributed towards making his menswear creations garner further praise by critics and be featured in publications in Brazil, Italy and the UK, including FFW, Brainstorm Mag, and GQ Italia.

Photograph © The Style Examiner / João Paulo Nunes



An academic background in Chemistry and Agriculture concluded prior to discovering a passion for fashion,developed in Scarpari an interest in formulas and equations that has remained perceptible in his conceptual processes. As a result, and anchored by a playful experimentation of contrasting prints, patterns and textures, his designs combine a sophisticated and mature approach to creativity and production that is particularly noticeable in his command of artisanal manufacturing techniques and appreciation for detailed hand-woven fabrics.

Currently enrolled in Milan’s Istituto Marangoni, Scarpari took a break from his fashion studies to return to his native Brazil and show his latest collection during the official line-up of Dragão Fashion Brasil, a key event in the Brazilian calendar of showcases for the fashion and clothing industries. Entitled ‘B-24’, the collection (which had previously been selected to be shown during a fashion trade show in Vicenza, Italy) drew inspiration from the idea of incorporating the genetic code into the design of unique garments in order to highlight the importance of individuality. This was achieved by a painstakingly crafted treatment of fabrics, particularly of softened leather worked through hand-woven three-dimensional houndstooth patterns. In addition, Brazilian and Italian cool wool and organic silk were used in fitted tops, tailored shirts, jackets, trousers, and overalls. 

Photograph © The Style Examiner / João Paulo Nunes

Photograph © The Style Examiner / João Paulo Nunes



Focussing on a colour palette of crimson, faded pink, black and white, the collection featured asymmetric silhouettes and frilled shorts that showed the influence of recent menswear designs by J.W. Anderson while audaciously and confidently attempting to push forward the boundaries of conventional tailoring. Nevertheless, when I asked whether Brazilian male consumers were ready for such innovative concepts, Jonathan Scarpari seemed unfazed about his immediate future: “For now, I see my fashion career progressing in Europe. Once that is achieved, I intend to explore the Brazilian menswear market as I think there is a growing number of men in this country clearly interested in fashion as a manifestation of individual style.” 





























Unless otherwise specified, photographs are courtesy of Dragão Fashion Brasil


Sunday, 27 April 2014

Front Row Fashion: Kalil Nepomuceno Spring/Summer 2014/15 Womenswear

Check out the exclusive final run-through of the Kalil Nepomuceno Spring/Summer 2014/15 Womenswear collection shown during Dragão Fashion Brasil 2014, Fortaleza, Brazil, on 26 April 2014.




Front Row Fashion: Mario Queiroz Spring/Summer 2014/15 Menswear

Check out the exclusive final run-through of the Mario Queiroz Spring/Summer 2014/15 Menswear show during DragãFashion Brasil 2014, Fortaleza, Brazil, on 23 April 2014.




Front Row Fashion: Jonathan Scarpari Spring/Summer 2014/15 Menswear

Check out the exclusive final run-through of the Jonathan Scarpari Spring/Summer 2014/15 Menswear collection shown during Dragão Fashion Brasil 2014, Fortaleza, Brazil, on 25 April 2014.




Thursday, 24 April 2014

2014 BFC/GQ Designer Menswear Fund Shortlist Announced

After launching the BFC/GQ Designer Menswear Fund in September 2013 (that The Style Examiner mentioned HERE), the British Fashion Council has announced the 2014 fund’s shortlist. Christopher Raeburn, Christopher Shannon, E. Tautz, Lou Dalton and Richard Nicoll are the five labels now in the running to win a £150,000 business development grant and benefit from a bespoke 12-month mentoring programme.

Christopher Raeburn Autumn/Winter 2014/15 menswear



Over the next two months, the designers from the shortlisted brands will participate in a mentoring programme developed by the British Fashion Council, where industry experts will provide guidance on business topics such as branding, leadership, commercial retail, e-tail and wholesale and digital innovation. They will then pitch their business plans to a judging panel in June 2014 when the winner of the Fund will be selected.

Richard Nicoll Autumn/Winter 2014/15 menswear

Lou Dalton Autumn/Winter 2014/15 menswear



Photographs courtesy of each designer featured


Monday, 21 April 2014

Alexandre Herchcovitch Spring/Summer 2014/15 Menswear

In the introductory notes to his Spring/Summer 2014/15 menswear collection that he showed on the last day of the latest edition of São Paulo Fashion Week on 4 April 2014, Brazilian designer Alexandre Herchcovitch declared that he had found inspiration for his creations in the looks of the preachers and believers of the Nazareth Baptist Church, an African religion that combines Zulu traditions with Christianity, also known as Shembe Church (after Isaiah Shembe, who founded the movement in South Africa in 1910). 

Photograph © The Style Examiner / João Paulo Nunes



After the runway show, and during a short backstage interview, Herchcovitch confirmed that this was his inspiration and that he had started developing the collection approximately 10 months before. Coincidentally, that was the time when an exhibition of photographs by South African portraitist Zwelethu Mthethwa was on display at the Jack Shainman Gallery in New York City, depicting young Zulu men wearing kilts and ornate shirts while attending public celebrations of the Nazareth Baptist Church. The exhibition was at the time largely ignored by the mainstream press, with the exception of the website coolhunting.com and an article by Linda Yablonsky in the New York Times drawing attention to the topic, either of which might have also contributed some inspiration to Herchcovitch’s latest menswear collection.

In fact, in her review of Mthethwa’s exhibition published on 3 February 2013, Yablonsky used words that one could perfectly adopt to describe Herchcovitch’s Spring/Summer 2014/15 menswear range: “The kilts, combined with white, fringed-hem blouses, long emerald-green ribbon ties, soccer-player knee-highs, steel-tipped boots and fluffy pompom headbands, are customary male drag for the monthlong ceremonial retreats that the Nazareth Baptist Church, or Shembe, stages twice a year near Durban, Mthethwa’s hometown. The kilts, for example, recall 19th-century Scottish immigrants to South Africa, while the pith helmets on some of the men, along with the uniform soccer socks, are a nod to former British rulers.”

If Mthethwa’s work might have served as inspiration for Herchcovitch, in a dramatic turn of events, his New York exhibition turned out to be the last time his name was mentioned untarnished and his work exhibited in public. On 5 May 2013, the artist was arrested for murder after having been allegedly filmed on closed circuit camera while beating 23-year-old Nokuphila Kumalo to death on a street of Cape Town. Mthethwa subsequently appeared in court but was granted bail. 

Photograph © The Style Examiner / João Paulo Nunes

Photograph © The Style Examiner / João Paulo Nunes

Photograph © The Style Examiner / João Paulo Nunes

Photograph © The Style Examiner / João Paulo Nunes



In a strange and ironic way, added dark layers of twisted reality are not at odds with Herchcovitch’s command of fashion as a language that interprets reality and the world. His decision to use 29 male and female black models to show his menswear collection on the runway was clearly deliberate, as not only did they refer to his main inspiration but also alerted for the issue of racial bias in fashion and repositioned the debate on androgyny, in a gesture that combined homage, irreverence and a critical approach to pastiche. 

The collection revealed an emphasis on textured fabrics and utilitarian sportswear that, for a few minutes, took viewers from the brightly illuminated runway onto the impoverished streets, open-air churches and sports fields (of either Brazil or South Africa) but, rather than remaining at an easy level of referentiality, it brought with it a vibrant and accomplished fashion.

The seemingly relaxed looks featured Herchcovitch’s characteristic sharp tailoring that more often than not includes a certain level of spirited deconstruction. Examples of this set of techniques could be found in the sleeveless double-breasted coats of variable lengths and patterns, the pleated pants rolled up to reveal the ankles, the cropped Scottish kilts worn over tailored trousers, the clean-cut angular collars, or the white shirts with applications of lace blocks. Delicate thin fabrics were treated with metallic or rubberised finishes to add depth, texture and contrast, and included leather, Tyvek, wool, denim, cotton, and embroidered linen in a colour palette comprising predominantly white, black, grey, blue, red, and silver, with the odd dash of yellow and emerald green, whereas patterning came in the form of large patchwork checks and pixelated plaids.

But, as Alexandre Herchcovitch has got his followers used to, fashion is more than what meets the eye and certainly more than the words chosen to describe a collection in introductory notes. During the end of the show run through and as the models paraded for one final display, a large number of conventional pieces could be identified past the styling and the statement pieces that initially impressed for runway effect, particularly in the form of tailored suits and shirting. And, just like that, Herchcovitch brought us back from the illusory streets, open-air churches and sports fields found in deprived parts of the word onto the formality of the runway, with an added demonstrated realisation of his very consummate menswear.

































Unless otherwise specified, photographs are courtesy of www.ffw.com.br