Dear Shaded Viewers,
Right after Fashion Rio two weeks ago I was invited by Kyoko of Gap Press Japan to attend a fashion show in a "favela". That was all I knew at the time about the event I am about to report:
Santa Cruz is a remote suburb in Rio, that although might not seem dangerous at first sight it is actually ruled by gangsters. Some areas of Los Angeles are like this, you wouldn’t notice you are in the "hood" until it’s too late. As we approached we were told to leave the car windows wide open, so "they" could see who’s travelling inside.
Organized by Moda Fusion, an association created by Nadine Gonzalez and Andrea Fasanello (Nadine is French while Andrea is Brazilian), this show is one of the many social activities they are involved with. In partnership with Institut Francais de la Mode, they invited a recent graduated student to spend three months living in Santa Cruz while preparing an ecologically, economically, socially, and culturally correct collection. This season the privilege was in the hands of designer Bianca Kuttickattu, who later this year will be working for Maison Martin Margiela on the "Artesanal" line (number 0 for women and 010 for men).
Actually the show itself was conceptually very "Margiela", as garments were presented on their tailors bust being carried by the people who made them.
Being well aware of the living conditions of people living in areas such as Santa Cruz, I very much admire all the effort Moda Fusion puts into making a difference. For example, last year they worked in partnership with Fifi Chachnil producing a lingerie collection made by prostitutes, and they have also opened a model agency in Cidade de Deus (a notorious favela since the film "City of God").This year Moda Fusion will be showing at the Ethical Fashion Show in Paris at the Carrousel du Louvre, in October. Whereas next year they will be bringing EFS to Rio for the first time.
As Nadine told me, "this is not about fashion." This is social work using fashion as a means to bring cultural and economic change to places where fads might last longer than people’s lives. In such state of emergency, her French smile brings a lot more than just hope. It gives fashion the chance to contribute by answering
questions other than "what will we be wearing next season?"