As I examined the mood board for Brazilian label Tufi Duek’s latest collection during a preview of the garments that would be shown on the runway of São Paulo Fashion Week on 31 March 2014, I could not help but wondering how well received and understood the collection would be. For Spring/Summer 2014/15 Tufi Duek’s designer Eduardo Pombal used the idea of lightness as an anchoring concept that would permeate throughout every colour, fabric and shape in a departure from the heavy textures crafted for previous seasons that risked confounding expectations.
While introducing the collection to me, Pombal referred to the images of the mood board to explain his process: “After an incredibly hot summer in Brazil, I just kept wishing for light breezy things. And what came to me was the images of these beautiful changing room pavilions in Miami’s iconic Art Deco hotels and their architectural swimming pools. It was very much about the luxury of the beach resort atmosphere in the 1950s and 1960s and how glamorous women aspired to be at the time.”
To achieve his intention, and in addition to incorporating his trademark fitted silhouettes, Pombal ventured into the realm of the little summer dress featuring bustier cuts, sleeveless and backless tops, and high-waist micro skirts with ballooned or pleated structures that came in a colour palette of silver, black, whites, pinks, and blues. The collection’s fabrics were also carefully chosen to highlight the concept: “This season, I tried to source quality fabrics from all over the world to make sure I got the results I wanted, including an iridescent chiffon made in Switzerland that perfectly conjures my vision of the glistening colour refraction found in floating soap bubbles” stressed Pombal. In contrast to the weightlessness of these materials, the collection also included highly textured fabrics such as jacquards combining cotton with woven raffia, neoprenes, thin memory foams that reshape after being touched, laces, and laser-cut tricoline flowers designed to resemble adornments from 1960s women’s swimming caps. Unsurprisingly, after the collection was presented, the references that kept being suggested by viewers included the Barbarella aesthetic and the disappointing low-key looks in comparison to Pombal’s previous endeavours. Understandable as those interpretations may be, Tufi Duek’s latest fashion offering deserves to be appreciated beyond its apparent simplicity: in spite of its illusive superficial softness, this is a collection whose richness and depth lie in a subtle attention to detail. And for that alone, Tufi Duek’s Spring/Summer 2014/15 deserves a closer examination and reassessment if one is to understand and appreciate its accomplished qualities.