With the approach of both a World Cup and an Olympics, Brazil is fast becoming the world's hottest country - with a wealth of young talent creating new international luxury brands. We profile four to look out for in 2014
Words Hayley Ard
Brazil has always been a hotbed of creativity. Its diverse landscapes and people provide an electric current of energy for people to experiment. The result is a sense of dynamism that adds vibrancy to traditional luxury brands - recall Missoni's 2011 collaboration with Havaianas, which saw the Italian fashion house's trademark zigzags cast in rainbow brights, across espadrilles and flip-flops. Or consider Fernando and Humberto Campana, the creative duo who presented an Alligator Chair made by Brazilian women in prison in 2004. It is that feeling of relaxation and rule-bending that defines Brazilian style, allowing imagination to run riot and unexpected possibilities to crystallise - such as swimwear doubling as streetwear in the heart of a city.
A long history of product innovation has earned Brazil a reputation as a hub for the beauty market. Access to exotic ingredients, often sourced from the depths of the Amazon, has helped the country's research labs produce a dazzling array of skincare and cosmetic products. It should come as no surprise, then, that US beauty firm Aveda created a make-up range based on urukum pigment (from the Urukum tree) gathered by the Yanawana tribe - or that the Brazilian blow-dry has become a staple treatment on any salon menu. This is a country with serious clout in the R&D department, but relatively few of its products have reached British shelves: high production costs have dented international sales.
Transformation is under way. Events such as the São Paulo Biennial, a contemporary art fair due to take place next year, are raising the international profile of Brazilian art to a new level. And as Rio de Janeiro prepares for this year's Fifa World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, we can expect to see a stream of Brazilian brands thrust into the global spotlight. The two sporting events will bring the country's leading creatives to a mass audience. Designers whose work we are already well versed in - from red carpet favourite Carlos Miele to Alexandre Herchcovitch, who is known for his eclectic patterns and avant-garde silhouettes - will take on fresh significance on the world stage.
Brazil has always had a thriving fashion industry: its swimwear, in particular, has won a cult following among celebrities and elite global travellers alike. Vix, the luxury resortwear label, beautifully captures the essence of beach culture; it is loved for its wild prints and daring cut-outs. The problem has been that the collections shown at São Paulo Fashion Week have tended to lack broad consumer appeal. Critics have wondered how the bold colours on show might translate in colder, greyer climes.
But the newest crop of Brazilian designers are dispelling doubts about the country's global design footprint. Striking and stylish, Brazil's homegrown brands are fast expanding beyond the region and injecting wow factor into homes and wardrobes around the world. Our pick of the best captures the brightest talents to rise from a country on the cusp of a creative revolution.
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