THROUGH THE DESIGNER'S EYES: Rio de Janeiro
Where do you live? How would you describe the creative scene in your city?
I live in Rio de Janeiro, it has a very eclectic creative scene, with a mix of traditional culture (Afro Brazilian heritage, traditional samba music or popular music) and a modern culture inspired by the urban culture of the USA .
How long have you lived there?
I have lived in Rio for the past 14 years.
Is there a large design community in your city? How do you interact with it?
Rio has very few designers compared to the fashion capital that is São Paulo or the traditional center of Minas Gerais. Rio is more geared towards beach related fashion and has a strong bohemian vibe. The most established brands and designers in Rio are in fact from the beach segment. I love working with fellow designers, mostly those whose work complete what we do, there is amazing craftsmanship in Rio de Janeiro, designers working with woods, leather, metal or natural fibers for embroidery. Since the scene is quite small, everybody knows each other and collaborate often. For the past 3 years I have been developing capsule collections with different designers.
How does the city inspire you?
Rio de Janeiro is the most inspiring place if you love nature and the ocean of course. The city is stuck between mountains and the shore, the urban stress known to other major cities is much less present here. Also the vibe is very cool and relaxed, the people very warm, it’s ideal for creators. Most of my pieces have that Rio Bohemian vibe, you can feel it through the prints, the colors the fluidity of the cut, the city transpires through the clothes.
What are the must-sees and must-dos for visitors?
Besides the classical touristic stop like the Cristo Redentor and the Pao de Acucar, I would definitely try the Lapa neighborhood with its bodega type of clubs where you can listen to live tradicional music and feel the Carioca style. I would also visit the Samba school and experience the Carnival preparation. There are also many activities you can do in and around the city, such as exploring the hills and forest—like Tijuca Forest—which offer up beautiful ways to take a break from the city. Close to Rio you have Buzios, with a string of dreamy beaches and white sands, fresh fish and zen lifestyle.
What makes your city special?
The people—everyone is so open and welcoming, and I think the geography is so unique.
What do you love most about your city?
The proximity to the ocean and the fact that you can start chatting with anyone about anything very easily.
What cuisines are distinct to your city?
The very traditional Feijoada (black beans with manioc flour, several kind of meats, rice, etc…) is the go-to food for some weekend dining.
What's a typical day like for you?
A typical day for me means waking up at 6:30 to walk my dog on the beach close to my home, then coming back, making breakfast and preparing my children for their French school. Once they're off, I go into my atelier and start drawing or painting new prints for the upcoming collection. I prefer morning and the later hours of the night to do the most creative part of my work—afternoons are focused on manufactures and working on actual pieces, fixing, cutting and modifying pieces with my team of seamstresses. The evenings are for my kids, and after they go to bed I usually check fashion news while listening to music and relaxing—I always end up drawing some more when everybody’s asleep in the house. I sleep very little!
Where is the best place to stay?
I would say Ipanema for the proximity to the beach, but Flamengo is nice as well if you like the little neighborhood lifestyle. There is a lot of transportation within the city so you’re never far from anywhere, which is great.
What's the biggest misconception people have about your city?
Violence, I suppose. Sadly it is mostly true, but you learn to adapt and avoid to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Do you manufacture your clothes in your city?
Yes, I’m one of the few ateliers that manufactures everything locally.
Does working outside of a traditional "fashion capital" like Paris or New York City impact your work in any way? How does it help or hinder your process?
I think it is our strength not to be in the fashion capital. It gives us freedom and a unique voice and design point of view—these cities are also cluttered with many designers and it’s harder for each to stand out, it also drives the cost of production up because of the cost of living. So, we suffer less pressure and have more room market-wise, and our deigns inspired by the place we live in is a real point of differentiation when it’s seen outside of Brazil. I would also add that the internet and the advent of e-commerce allows us to be present commercially everywhere we want.
What is your city missing in terms of design and creativity? What does it have that other cities do not?
I would say that we’re missing high quality components, especially if you design more luxury products. Things like zippers, buttons, fabric etc… the offering is quite basic in the city and we need to source outside, in São Paulo or abroad, and that’s an unwelcome cost. Until recently we also lacked the commercial fair landscape to expose our work and sell it, though now there’s recently been a change with the creation of VESTERIO, which is sponsored by Vogue and Rio de Janeiro’s administration, but we could use more events like this. What we do have is craftsmanship, talents working with many mediums (like macramé or crochet). I also think that our geography and lifestyle have provided many artists and designers an unparalleled source of inspiration, especially for prints and graphic work.
How does the fashion scene function within your local culture?
It’s a small world with very few events where we can gather, so the good part is that we work with each other a lot, but ultimately we have to go out of Rio for commercial or development matters, whether it is to find fabric or to open new doors. I think everyone that has had the chance to grow has had to leave Rio in one way or the other. There’s a rich diversity, a unique way of life and designing style, but it can't be focused on the city—it has to go out to survive.