For an introduction to São Paulo fashion, head to Jardins, where the majority of local designers have their showrooms. São Paulo’s Rua Oscar Freire boasts nine blocks of unadulterated luxury shopping with over 100 (heavily guarded) boutiques representing Brazilian designers along with international brands ranging from Diesel to Armani.
Even if you’re not in the mood to buy, many of the stores are creatively designed and the window shopping is fantastic.
While Oscar Freire is the main fashion drag, the surrounding streets of Rua Augusta, Alameda Lorena, Rua Dr. Melo Alves, Rua Bela Cintra, Rua Haddock Lobo, and Rua da Consolação are also teeming with interesting stores.
Street and Casual Wear
In terms of the coolest in Brazilian casual and streetwear—including the extraordinarily comfortable and super stylish Brazilian jeans that have taken the world by storm—Paulistano designers have long been in the vanguard. Although the following labels can be found in the most upscale shoppings around town (and around the country), you’ll find the flagship stores in Jardins.
Fórum (Rua Oscar Freire 918, tel. 11/3085-9310, www.forum.com.br) singlehandedly put Brazilian jeans on the map with high-quality, form-fitting jeans that have become a closet staple for celebs from Jennifer Lopez to Meg Ryan.
Responsible for introducing stone-washed jeans to Brazil, Ellus (Rua Oscar Freire 990, tel. 11/3082-3120, www.ellus.com.br) has since evolved considerably into one of Brazil’s most sexy and adventurous casual wear labels. It scored a recent coup with its ad campaign featuring New York indie actress/fashionista Chloe Sevigny.
The sultry, colorful, and youthful designs of Zoomp (Rua Oscar Freire 995, tel. 11/3064-1556, www.zoomp.com.br) are extremely popular with hip young things who proudly flaunt the brand’s yellow lightning bolt logo.
M. Officer (Rua Oscar Freire 944, tel. 11/3085-6866, www.carlosmiele.com) showcases the flawlessly cut and original casual clothing line of Paulistano designer Carlos Miele, a darling of the international fashion press whose flagship ready-to-wear Carlos Miele store in New York’s Meatpacking District put him on the map.
Iódice (Rua Oscar Freire 940, tel. 11/3085-9310, www.iodice.com.br) is another homegrown label for both men and women, featuring pared-down, casual designs with refined details.
For cutting-edge alternative streetwear head to Galeria Ouro Fino (Rua Augusta 2690, tel. 11/3082-7860), where more than 100 boutiques have something for urban hipsters of every type. Aside from clothing and shoes by up-and-coming designers, you can get tattoos, body piercings, or a radical new haircut. Because it is popular with DJs and musicians—there are a few great vinyl stores—the place is littered with flyers announcing shows, festas, and other nocturnal events.
Jardins is also a great place to check out the ready-to-wear collections of Brazil’s most renowned designers. The son of a Lebanese garment merchant, Fause Haten (Rua Oscar Freire 1102, tel. 11/3081-8685) originally began making clothes as a way to make money to travel. Over the years, his sensual and often extravagant designs—along with his shell-shaped jewelry fashioned out of white and yellow gold—have earned him accolades as one of Brazil’s most original designers.
Brazil’s bad boy of design, Alexandre Herchcovitch (Rua Haddock Lobo 1151, tel. 11/3063-2888), grew up in São Paulo’s Orthodox Jewish community, where his mother, a lingerie seamstress, taught him the basics of sewing. At age 16, he made his first organza dress, and by his early 20s, he was designing his own edgy collection. Mixing elements from sources as diverse as punk rock, Judaism, Disney, and drag, his clothes have gone from seducing denizens of Sampa’s underground scene to luring international jet-setters. Today, Herchcovitch—a DJ and famous fixture on the local club scene—shows collections in Paris and New York as well as São Paulo.
Gloria Coelho (Rua Bela Cintra 2173, tel. 11/3085-6671, www.gloriacoelho.com.br) has built an acclaimed career by fusing the most disparate references into clean, modern, smart designs with a futuristic edge. Her former assistant and present husband, Reinaldo Lourenço (Rua Bela Cintra 2167, tel. 11/3085-8151, www.reinaldolourenco.com.br) is known as the “poet” of Brazilian fashion due to the lyrical sensibility that informs his contemporary clothing. Adriana Barra (Rua Peixoto Gomide 1801, Casa 5, tel. 11/3064-3691, www.adrianabarra.com.br) is one of the most promising stars on the fashion circuit. Her fluid, feminine designs recapture the glamor and romance of earlier times while remaining firmly grounded in modern times.
Back in the days when Americans were wearing “jelly shoes,” Brazilians were wedging their feet into “Melissas,” the original “jelly” invented in Brazil in 1979. After 30 years on the market, these humble plastic shoes got a major revamping with the opening of the Galeria Melissa (Rua Oscar Freire 827, tel. 11/3083-3612, www.galeriamelissa.com.br). This wildly inventive design gallery/shoe temple sells cutting-edge versions of this surprisingly flexible and comfortable classic, reimagined by design gurus such as Alexandre Herchcovitch, the Campana brothers, and Karim Rashid.
The shoes at Fernando Pires (Rua Consolação 3534, tel. 11/3068-8177, www.fernandopires.com.br) are definitely not for conservative feet. With the goal of transforming women into “Greek goddesses,” Pires specializes in flamboyant footwear such as high-heeled tie-up sandals encrusted in jewels and thigh-high metallic leather boots in Carnaval colors. Women in search of their inner drag queen will be in heaven. Men’s shoes are slightly more discreet.
© Michael Sommers from Moon Brazil, 2nd Edition