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The concept of designers in tropical Brazil creating winter wear might seem like an oxymoron akin to Icelandic designers pioneering summer styles. Though not entirely off the mark when it came down to execution, the fashion on the catwalks at São Paulo's Fashion Week ended up being, for the most part, mild. But credit should be given to a few choice designers who brought up the temps, plus those who took extra effort in arranging creative shows that veered from the normally staid runways.

But first, the hype to the lead-up. By far the most thrilling moment of the week was Vivienne Westwood's appearance in support of two synthetic versions of her signature shoes she's releasing with Melissa (pictured at right), Brazil's hugely popular plastic-injected shoe manufacturer, accompanied by a retrospective exhibit featuring 147 pairs of the British designer's over-the-top creations. Also, Minister of Culture/singer Gilberto Gil announced the government's new dedication to pushing fashion in Brazil, which will affirm the country's up and coming designers as bona fide resources.

On the runways, plaid and flannel were staples, and while many used their own palette of colors, black reared its dark head. A variety of prints and strategically placed ruffles made everything more interesting too. When it came to size, trouser pants and other high waisted bottoms, like in the U.S., were responses to the skinny movement, and dresses and skirts took on all lengths. What follows is a more detailed rundown of the runways.


Alexandre Herchcovitch/Zoomp
Alexandre Herchcovitch was called in to manage Zoomp's winter season, and the results were unanimously splendid. Crocheted designs starred on women's black Cat Woman-like jumpsuits and light baby doll dresses took on different translations. The men's line was marked by large, shiny parkas with oversized hoods.


For his signature collections, womenswear proved to be another exercise in which he could do no wrong. Pretty dresses in black and color blocks were cut generously and then attached in a way to play with movement. Urban cowboy was his theme for men's, with open-back vests, fringes and leather galore in the form of hooded jackets and even a chaps entry.


The Ellus show, set in a beautiful, old train station in the city center, featured a collection as solid as rock. Its cheekier 2nd Floor line (above) was charming and playful, with scarves made from stuffed toy art pieces, oversized and voluminous everything and prints that ranged from chevron stripes to more elaborated artful takes, some of which were created by Brazilian artist Bruno 9Li.


The Ellus line itself brought 21st-century punks and rockers with great hair via train, dressed in the brand's signature denim. Dresses had suggestive cut-outs, overlayed with black framing and metal hardware from the punk uniform (spikes and studs) embellished jackets of both sexes.

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Unafraid to take a chance, Cavalera took a limited number of press to the stinking and filthy Tiete River and put them on a boat under sprinkling rain to watch the show held on land. Without paying attention to trend, the idea for this season was to re-appropriate fabrics leftover from previous seasons to make a point about recycling. The show's setting was creative directed by Do Estilista's Marcelo Sommer and raised conscience about the pollution and trash that we collectively produce. The styles were a colorful mix of boho and streetwear.


Do Estilista
This writer's favorite Brazilian designer also went the way of the cowboy for winter, bringing bright oranges and yellows mixed with blue to ruffled dresses and rodeo-style shirts complete with fringes or sequins. Flame imagery lent brightness for a season when everything including fashion goes dark.


Ronaldo Fraga
Always the designer to get the loudest standing ovation and brings the most tears from the audience, Ronaldo Fraga is dear to the hearts of fashionistas because his collections refer to a specific experience Brazilians share. This time it was about the neighborhood sew and tailor shop becoming obsolete with time. I loved the dress adorned with fabric swatches and another one silkscreened all over with bolts of fabric.


Samuel Cirnansck
Red plaid worked well for the inventions of Samuel Cirnansck, who put gorgeous metalwork on top of short evening dresses to accentuate the female form. People were saying it was a bit Alexander McQueen, a bit Vivienne Westwood—either way, it was well executed and lovely.


Erika Ikezili
Erika Ikezili's decidedly Japanese take, standard in her collections, resulted in wonderful dresses with all sorts of trimmings. Instead of a chaotic effect, the look was romantic and sweet.

Also see: São Paulo Fashion Week Summer 2007 Part 1, 2


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