Rio Olympics: 10 Brazilian designers you need to know

Rio Olympics: 10 Brazilian designers you need to know

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Text: Raia Gomez

As international athletes and spectators descend on the country for the Rio Olympics, we’re turning the spotlight on the Brazilian designers who are rising to the top of the fashion game

Fashion may not be one of the first things that come to mind when thinking of Brazil. Futbol, Carnival, Samba and the Copacabana are some of the usual images conjured by the vibrant country. This summer though, music and passion are not the only things in fashion in Brazil. The country has taken center stage in many a fashion magazine season after season.

Gisele, Adriana, Alessandra are just a few of the notable names that have walked runways all over the world and have made the country synonymous to supermodels. But aside from Brazilian bombshells and the girl from Ipanema, the country is also brimming with creative talents. As all eyes turn to the country in this year's summer Olympics, we're turning our attention to a few of the top Brazilian brands and designers who are putting the country on the fashion map. 

Brazilian-born Barbara Casasola earned her fashion chops working in the atelier of Roberto Cavalli in Florence and consulting in Paris for brands including Lanvin, after having studied in both Central Saint Martins and Instituto Marangoni. She launched her eponymous label in 2013 and since then, in just a handful of seasons, her collections have become distinct for the juxtaposition of chic tailoring and flirty silhouettes. There's a subtle elegance and modern sophistication woven into Casasola's designs. Soft echoes of Casasola's native Brazil permeate her London studio with pleated skirts inspired by Brazilian artist Lygia Pape, alluring colours reminiscent of the plush Amazon and silk cords that bring to mind the country's traditional wish ribbons. Every piece from Casasola's collections are the perfect fit for the modern woman — both sensual and strong, which makes it no surprise that women from the Duchess of Cambridge to actress Alicia Vikander have been seen in her designs.
There's no doubt where the creative forces of Isolda, Juliana Affonso Ferreira and Maya Pope, draw inspiration from. Bright colours, printed flora and fauna and precious stones are staples in every Isolda collection. Brazilian-English Juliana and Brazilian-Japanese Maya are childhood friends, who grew up amidst the lush environment of Brazil's Horto Florestal. The duo took the tropical images that surrounded them throughout their youth to England where in 2011, they launched Isolda and began their fashionable homage to their home country. These days, Juliana, who had previously worked for Vogue Brazil, designs the Isolda silhouettes from São Paulo, while Maya conceptualises the brand's visual identity and graphic prints from Madrid. The bi-continental collaboration has proven successful. Each Isolda collection resembles a work of art and just like art, Isolda has garnered patrons of diverse women from all over the world who are as bold and daring as the prints they wear. 
She sells seashells in her shoes — literally. You can't be Brazilian and not be inspired by the country's magnificent coastlines. Lane Marinho doesn't only draw inspiration from the beautiful beaches of her home country, she actually incorporates them in her designs. Genuine seashells, corals, pearls, jade and other precious gems are just a few of the unique materials used by the designer in creating her eye-catching sandals. The seaside life comes to actual life in her shoes with the use of design elements reminiscent of sailing knots, fine fishing nets and rope. Both a traditional artisan and modern creative, Marinho learned the skills of crochet, embroidery and hand sewing as a young girl and later on developed skills in graphic design. After working for a few of the biggest fashion names in Brazil, Marinho decided to apply all that she had learned into her own designs and launched her own collection. All Lane Marinho sandals are handmade and produced in very limited quantities. Marinho loves the idea of having a piece of nature close to one's body and constructs all her sandals using natural materials. Her dream is to share her true artistic passion and to make people see the poetry behind simple things, which she has surely achieved with her one of a kind creations. 
While Brazilians may be famous for their passion, it's the people's contrasting laidback attitude and innate sensuality that Fernando Jorge looks to in creating the jewellery that he has become recognised for. After nearly a decade of designing for notable Brazilian jewellery brands, Jorge decided to pursue further studies in jewellery design at Central Saint Martins and it was there where he later launched his own label. In less than six years since he began his own collection, Jorge has received numerous accolades including a nomination at the British Fashion Awards in 2014 as 'Best Emerging Accessory Designer of the Year.' While designing from London, Jorge uses locally sourced gemstones and minerals from his home country in creating his inherently Brazilian designs, imbued with sensuality, energy and movement. Women including actress Margot Robbie and model Adriana Lima have been seen in Jorge's sculptural pieces that are both modern and elegant. 
The Andrea Marques collection was born out of the designer's desire to translate her passion for prints and colours into contemporary feminine silhouettes. Marques' collections have received much success in her native Brazil. A mere year after its 2007 launch, the designer opened her first store in Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro. Floral prints, retro patterns, colour blocking and both vivid colours and subdued tones come together to create striking pieces perfect for both day and night. Her seamless combination of materials like silks, leather and feathers, along with her play with transparency, patterns and silhouettes are refreshing takes on wardrobe essentials. Her unique style has garnered much acclaim in the fashion week runways in Brazil but this year, Marques' designs will be going up the Olympic podiums as she was tasked to design the uniform's of the volunteers presenting medals. 
Vitorino Campos is another of the talented designers hailing from Brazil, rapidly making his name in the global fashion scene. After earning a degree in Fashion Design at the University of Salvador, the designer launched his namesake label with both a men's and women's wear line in 2008. His first collection was shown during São Paulo fashion week in 2012 and has since become distinguished for it's unconventional details and for the designer's play with fit, silhouettes, deconstruction and materials. This season, baggy denim, plastic-esque tops combined with houndstooth prints, dresses layered over trousers and single sleeved jackets create looks that are simultaneously cool and chic. For Campos, his constant focus on craftsmanship, cut and construction throughout his evolving silhouettes has not only become a trademark of his label but is the foundation that he believes connects his clothing to the men and women who wear them.
Osklen founder and creative director Oskar Metsavaht has come a long way from his career as an orthopedic physician. His journey in the fashion world began when a climbing expedition encouraged him to design his own high tech anorak. In 1989, the Osklen brand was born. In nearly 30 years, the brand has become known for luxury lifestyle menswear, womenswear and accessories, and named by Forbes magazine as "Brazil's first luxury brand." Since then, Metsavaht himself has become recognised for his creativity and innovation, hailed as the "fourth most innovative person in Brazil." Osklen represents not only the creativity and vision of its founder, it is driven by Metsavaht's multi-disciplinary pursuits as an artist, film maker, entrepreneur and environmentalist. Like most artists, he draws inspiration from his experiences and desires but unlike most fashion designers, Metsavaht is said to conceptualise first the campaign and setting of his collection, which the clothes then fit into. The Osklen brand embodies a dynamic lifestyle and aesthetic that is casual yet chic. Refined and stylised wardrobe staples along with simple yet striking design lines, specialised materials and exceptional finishes create a brand that is simultaneously urban, cosmopolitan, and genuinely Brazilian.
Alexandre Herchcovitch has been making a name for himself in both Brazil and abroad for many years now. For the São Paulo-born designer, the interest in fashion began early in life. At the age of 10, he had asked his mother to teach him how to sew and subsequently began making clothes that she would wear. Since then, Herchcovitch has been making clothing and has never stopped. It was the opposing influences of his education at a Jewish Orthodox school and his youthful exploits in the Brazilian nightlife scene that would form his style aesthetic. His first official collection was launched in 1994 and he has since shown on the runways of London, Paris and New York. The Alexandre Herchcovitch collection of menswear, womenswear and denim are distinct for their avant garde flair, elements of ruggedness combined with tailoring, and experimentations with materials and proportions. While the namesake collections stays true to the designer's vision, Herchcovitch is now the creative director of À La Garçonne, which began as a vintage furniture store and is now also a clothing collection.
Martha Medeiros' career as a fashion designer began at the tender age of eight. As a young girl, she learned the fine art of needlework from her grandmother who was an art teacher in the Alagoas region of Brazil. Martha applied what she learned from her grandmother in creating handmade dresses for her dolls, which she then sold to her friends from her house garage. Her girlhood fancies would pave the way for her lifelong ambition. Medeiros opened a multi-brand boutique in 1985, Maison M, selling pieces from both local Brazilian designers and international brands. Though she was selling thousands of different clothing items, when her customers were looking for something new, it was Medeiros' own lace designs that they would purchase. In 2004, she finally launched her own fashion label. The Martha Medeiros collection has grown to become known for the traditional craftsmanship of handmade lace with an elegance and modernity designed for today's woman. Evening gowns and everyday separates are all painstakingly crafted using traditional lace-making techniques. Medeiros' collections have expanded to include a home line and this summer, she's created a capsule collection inspired by the Rio Olympics.
Gloria Coelho is from the Minas Gerais area of Brazil. Though she studied fashion design in Paris, for Coelho, you could say that fashion runs in the family and creativity, right through their very veins. Not only does Coelho have her own eponymous clothing line that she launched in 1974, her husband Reinaldo Lourenco is also a famed designer, for his own namesake label. Passing the fashion design gene to the next generation, Gloria and Reinaldo's son, Pedro, is yet another designer, and the talent behind the family's third clothing brand, Pedro Lourenco. Throughout the years and season after season, Coelho has managed to achieve what every designer strives for and dreams of — longevity. Her collections have continuously received much success for their minimalist sophistication through her combination striking fabrics, cuts and patterns. Luxury, subtle sensuality and feminine confidence are incorporated into every piece of Coelho's designs.