A few weeks ago, I had the very special opportunity to attend the C&A Brazil fashion show, kicking offs its new line for Summer 2013. The collection, titled Eu sou poderosa (“I am powerful”), featured four different Brazilian poderosas, or “powerful women,” representing 4 different regions, 4 different styles, and 4 different spirits that altogether reflect the beauty of Brazil’s unique and immense diversity.
The fashion show was an exciting experience for me, not so much for the clothes and the glamor, but more because it gave me an opportunity to reflect on my experience in Brazil as a whole. For me, it was not the models and the fashion I was watching on the runway; it was Brazil.
The mixture of colors, textures, and patterns in the four poderosa collections reflected the vibrancy and the richness of the Brazilian culture and spirit –or, as they termed it, brasilidade– that is so present in every aspect of their life, from the clothes they wear to the music they listen to.
In true Brazilian style, the show was complemented with music and dancing at every interval, again showing off the wide and lively array of musical genres that Brazilians all love and live by. The audience danced and sang along as some of the biggest names in Brazilian pop culture appeared on stage by surprise—or at least surprise for me. No one else seemed to be too awed when Naldo came out to sing his number one hit “Se jogo” and then Preta Gil joined him in a duet before the parade had even started, or when worldwide supermodel Isabel Gouzart walked out onto the runway leading the other top models behind. The others in the audience did not know ahead of time either, but for them it is just another one of those things about Brazil that comes as such a striking contrast to me (to have the lives of some of the most famous so casually intersecting with people’s everyday life) but that here is just seen as something almost normal. Personally, I am still shocked weeks later that I saw Mariene de Castro and Thiago Abravanel along with all of the others all in one night. These are names that even I recognize and admire after just my few short months here. (And did I mention that the admission to this mega-event was totally free?)
For me, the biggest takeaway from the experience was an affirmation of Brazil’s great pride in its uniqueness and its determination to portray the country and its people in a way that truly embraces all that makes them distinct. This is something that I have noticed not just in the music and the fashion industry, but also as a theme among investors, organizations, and other local groups all looking for a unique model for growth and development in Brazil that plays to the country and culture’s strengths and identity. Brazil believes in itself, the all poderosa, and is determined to do things in its own style.
As the show came to an end, samba dancers took over the stage to give one last performance and complete the one missing part of the all Brazilian experience. A Sunday night at 9pm, and the event finished by launching into a huge party that was just getting started.
Overall, I would say they did it: they managed to capture the true essence and spirit of Brazil all on one stage and all in one room. If this was just a fashion show, I cannot wait to see what they will do for the Olympics…