When long-limbed beauties, fashion editors, buyers and a whole lot of air-kissing collectively descend on Parque do Ibirapuera, it can only mean one thing: São Paulo Fashion Week is back. The cream of Brazilian fashion steps into the spotlight twice a year at the increasingly big-deal SPFW – but where do the young guns start to make their mark?
There are three main public platforms for fashion in São Paulo. First, there’s a certain amount of scope at Fashion Week itself for lesser-spotted designers; but Casa de Criadores, timed to coincide with SPFW each June, is an edgier, younger sort of affair. The third and youngest tier in the trio, Projeto Lab, is a competition organised by Casa de Criadores to unearth one stunning designer – in 2011 the judges sifted through 53 entries from young designers to arrive at the talented Anna Paula Osório Barbosa, who will have the chance to show her collection on the catwalk during Casa de Criadores.
In the spotlight
The up-and-coming designer Fernanda Yamamoto knows only too well what it’s like to be starting out in the competitive world of fashion. She opened her Vila Madalena store in 2009, and just a few months later made her debut at SPFW. ‘It’s such a privilege to have the opportunity to show there,’ says the 31-year-old designer. ‘The visibility that showing at SPFW offers for your brand in both Brazil and worldwide is amazing.’
The chance for new designers to emerge into the limelight is crucial for the future of Brazil’s burgeoning fashion industry. For Yamamoto, the four-time winner of the Rio Moda Hype fashion prize, another showcase for new talent which takes place in Rio, the opportunity to take part in SPFW is a must-have chance to get her label into the spotlight. ‘The great thing about SPFW is that it offers space for new designers to show alongside big names in Brazilian fashion,’ says Yamamoto.
In 2010, for example, smaller fashion houses like those of Yamamoto and João Pimenta showed their work on the same catwalks as darlings of the Brazilian fashion scene Alexandre Herchcovitch, Reinaldo Lourenço and high-street label Animale – because in contrast with über-fashion weeks like London’s and New York’s, there’s a little more scope here for relative newcomers.
A career launch-pad
Casa de Criadores, on the other hand, is all about the new talent, and a chance for a glance into the future of Brazilian fashion. Casa de Criadores’ director André Hidalgo underlines the importance of these platforms in designers’ careers: ‘In the 14 years that Casa de Criadores has been running, we’ve launched designers who now show their work at SPFW, like Ronaldo Fraga, André Lima and Marcelo Sommer – even Giselle Bündchen got a break here.’
Yamamoto, who not too long ago was herself an emerging talent in Casa de Criadores, is a big supporter of up-and-coming designers, and even makes it a year-round, common-sense part of her business plan. ‘Platforms like Casa de Criadores are a great opportunity to highlight your work, but there isn’t always a chance to make sales,’ says Fernanda. ‘I have two designers, Rober Dognani and Cynthia Hayashi, who both show at Casa de Criadores, selling at the store.’
The trajectory from Casa de Criadores to SPFW may be established, but at the same time it’s not an automatic graduation from one to the other, as designers must be invited to show at SPFW in a process that is as secretive as choosing the next Pope. And that exclusivity extends to the public too, with entrance to the invite-only event reserved for a chosen few.