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Picture Patti Smith in Bahia 30 Years Ago—Designer Vitorino Campos Had São Paulo’s Most Promising Show

Forty shows were presented over five days in São Paulo. The season left us with a feeling that Brazilian fashion is not surrendering to the economic crisis. By looking within—to local culture and to brand archives—designers are defining the fashion of the future. Giuliana Romanno left her all-black collections behind this season, focusing instead on a diverse range of blues and mixing them with sunny yellow and off-white. The tailoring was soft and the mood breezy.

Lenny Niemeyer is the queen of Rio beachwear. For her first-ever show in São Paulo, she looked at Brazil’s legendary Carnival tradition. The references were there—Carmen Miranda, for starters—but they weren’t so literal as to turn off the jet-setter clientele that Niemeyer caters to. Veteran designer Luiz Cláudio ofApartamento 03 is also new in town, but his years of experience have yielded a brand that is unique for its craft. Gloria Coelho, by contrast, embodies the spirit of São Paulo, which is assertive, urban, and above all, Latin. Latex minis and metallics mixed with neutrals were her key pieces this season. Coelho represents the “Paulista” woman who wants to feel sexy and desired, even as she gets older.

Speaking of Paulistas, it’s very hard to redefine the fashion sense of Brazilian women, and that’s why Vitorino Campos is proving to be the man of the hour in São Paulo. The young designer from Bahia is swapping the overt sexiness, for which so many Brazilian fashion brands are known, for an emphasis on color and contemporary shapes. Campos’ neo-tropical girl is casual, cool, and only a little bit naughty. She feels comfortable in monochromes and if she’s showing leg, her top is covered. Campos’ starting point was the relationship between Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe, which Smith chronicled so movingly in Just Kids. It was interesting to see how such an American tale could be interpreted for Brazil in the 21st century. It is as if Patti Smith went to Bahia 30 years ago.

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