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Casa de Criadores: Alternative Sao Paulo Fashion Week: Winter 2005 collections

Author: Jonty Skrufff
Monday, April 18, 2005
"Almost all the collections presented at the hospital had a strong relationship with music or club culture. We had some designers who'd been finding their inspiration from 70s disco and others from punk and rock. Club culture isn't only present inspiration-wise either because most designers build their collections specifically thinking of the people that are going out at night dancing. They also choose the music for their shows very selectively and most of them use electronic music related sounds. I think this influence will only continue to grow."

Speaking at the conclusion of Sao Paulo's 17th alternative Fashion Week Casa de Criadores (which means House of Designers in English) founder and creative director Andre Hidalgo, confirms that music, particularly club music, plays an increasingly integral part in both his event and Brazil's burgeoning fashion world. And soundtrack-wise, Sao Paulo's fashionistas dance to the same upfront electro tinged niches as those in New York or London," he points out.

"During the last year, electroclash as it's known, has lost strength as people are getting more eclectic, listening to more rocky stuff," Andre continues, "It's a genre that was quite big among the fashion crowd but never got to be a large scale phenomena like techno, house or even drum & bass."

With DJs like Marky and Pacife remaining Brazil's best known contemporary musical exports, drum & bass and indeed techno and house remain cultural mainstays of Brazilian youth, though as local style guru Erika Palomino points out their effect is waning.

"We have lots of boys and girls from downtown who still dress like The Prodigy, they are called "cybermanos' or "cyberbros'," she explains. "These are the people who fill up festivals made for 50 thousand people and who still listen to drum & bas, whereas the electro movement has brought back the values of the 80s and rock brought back black and its own particular image. Nowadays, the most fashionable nights are those related to both rock and electro universes."

A one time music journalist, Erika is nowadays one of Brazil's leading style experts running a thriving consultancy business via her online trend spotting portal She's also something of a regal presence at Casa de Criadores, heading up a team of charming young talent scouts, all of whom occupy front row seats at every catwalk show. Blonde, beautiful and totally unpretentious, however, her vibe is more La Dolce Vita than Cruella Da Ville, reflecting the event's ethos of collaboration over competition.


The Hospital.

16 collections and six years after it started, Casa de Criadores 17th edition takes place at Hospital Humberto Primo, an abandoned through strikingly characteristic former hospital in the heart of Sao Paulo. Rightly recognised as an architectural treasure by local authorities, the spacious venue is spartan though luxurious, its high ceilings keeping room temperatures naturally cool, and unusual history adding a certain frisson.

"On the one hand you had the old hospital structure where life and death struggled in the past but on the other side, we used the maternity ward area where some of the designers and members of he press were born 20 years ago," commercial boss Francisco Navarette points out. "As I am an engineer I believe the life and death forces cancelled each other out."

Andre's not so sure, declaring "personally, I don't believe in ghosts', though admits not all his staff were so sanguine.

"The sound technicians told me they saw a woman pushing a baby car through the corridors of the hospital and the night watchman said they got a visitor insisting she wanted to visit her friend who had been checked into the hospital just a few days ago," he reveals. "But the hospital has been abandoned for 12 years, and anyway, it was mostly related with cure and redemption rather than death."

Ghostly apparitions aside, though, the event's focus was on fashion shows, p