Describing the clothes, accessories and trends on display during São Paulo Fashion Week is a veritable exercise in narrating a tale of opposites. The runways of the fifth most influential fashion week in the world bring together not only designers whose creative talent elevates their garments to border the realm of ‘haute couture’, but also allows for the display of commercial labels that generate millions of Reais in their thousands of stores dotted around Brazil. Cavalera, the brand whose show closed the first day of the 35th São Paulo Fashion Week for Spring/Summer 2014, is definitely in the latter category.
The show opened with singer Tony Tornado performing live against a colourful background at the entrance to the runway. Slowly, dancers took to that space coming down the aisles of the seating areas and grouped around Tornado in dance movements to songs that paid homage to the North-American TV programme Soul Train during its heyday in the early 1970s and as a way to frame models that took to the runway two at a time. Under creative director Alberto Hiar, if Cavalera is definitely not about high fashion, it is certainly about high fun. The clothes did not pretend to show any creative nous; instead, they relied on traditional forms that stood out owing to colourful patchworks.
The direct influence of the 1970s was evident in the womenswear looks in the form of long skirts and dresses with slits introduced to create movement, overalls, mini shorts, miniskirts and printed leggings with leather fringes. For men, Cavalera proposed shirts with mixed prints and colour blocks, and shorts and T-shirts with bright prints. Fabrics included silk satin, silk georgette, cotton twill with elastain and denim in bright colours such as yellow, orange, red, pink, royal blue, purple and green combined with tones of coffee, sand, raw, ice, celestial blue and black, and prints inspired by 1970s’ Africana, graphic florals, Op Art, urban graffiti, insects, hibiscuses and palm trees. Furthermore, a most accomplished range of footwear (particularly for men) stole the show.
The fact that low and populist fashion brands such as Cavalera are allowed into São Paulo Fashion Week’s calendar is a concern for some. The argument is that these are labels that move millions on a daily basis in their own right but should belong to trade showcases and not the dominion of high fashion. But with the global economy dictating the sad death of sartorial ingenuity, maybe the option is for Brazilian fashion to start dancing.