Ahead of the Rio Olympics, guest blogger and Brazilian designer Gisela Pecego explains why Rio de Janeiro is such an inspiring place.
My name is Gisela Pecego, I’m a Brazilian print designer, born and raised in Rio, where I currently live with my family.
There has been a lot said about the big fashion capitals, Paris, New York, London and Milan, but I’d like to take this time to celebrate a city a little closer to home: Rio de Janeiro.
Ahead of the Olympics, the world’s eyes will be on Rio, and for good reason, this is a city bustling with talent, style and more importantly, inspiration.
I love Rio and the carioca way of life, the city routinely reinvents itself and inspires a lot of my work as a print designer and creative director. I spend my days crafting illustrations, as well as painted or photographic prints, I have also co-created print collections for Brazilian fashion names like Abrand, TM, Virzi de Luca, Andrea Marques, to name a few.
But what is it that makes Rio so marvellous and seduces visitors from around the globe?
“Carioca da gema” is a popular Brazilian expression used to describe someone who is an authentic citizen of Rio de Janeiro, one whose core belongs to this amazing city. I’d say not only my core, but also my soul belongs to Rio.
Rio’s beach culture and lifestyle influences art and fashion in Brazil and abroad. Rio is a reflection of the nature of the city and the natural wonders that can be found in every corner of the city. Our way of life reflects the city landscape, like the mountains that fall in the sea. When the sun comes up, Cariocas rise with it and head to the beach, either for a swim or a run, while simultaneously catching some golden rays.
Cariocas find its essence at the beach, a truly democratic place, where people from all races and ages meets together to exercise and enjoy the sun and the sand. And, while the sun heats up routine life in Rio, it is the sea and the sinuous movement of its tides that set the laid back rhythm of its locals. “Let’s go for a beer and a dip in the sea” is an expression you will hear all the time, any time – because Rio is really on its own time. Why? Maybe because of its embracing mountains, that isolate Rio from the rest of the world and turn it into an untouchable paradise.
As a designer, the city scape around me influences all my work. When it came to the prints I designed for the first collection of Parioca, a male swimwear brand that mixes the Carioca lifestyle with Parisian class and sass, I naturally gravitated towards semi-erotic prints, some of which reinterpreted Rio’s sinuous landscapes. When creating, I always try to add a touch of playfulness (another trait that is always present in the Carioca way of life), so the prints were slightly mischievous, though not vulgar. The beauty behind them is that one has to look closely in order to see the peeping tongues and wandering hands that capture Rio’s tropical eroticism. And it was a big hit!
Although Rio has a strong visual language from which I feed daily, as a designer I am also constantly seeking new and out-of-the-ordinary aesthetic dialogues. I like to challenge myself to update my “cultural baggage” and consider contemporary happenings into my creations.
So, as Rio prepares to host the 2016 Olympic games, it was only natural that I picked up on the city’s changing landscape and translated it into my work, in this case for Felipa, a famous and cool Rio-based espadrille brand.
The collection I’ve created for the brand’s Winter 2016 offering called “TCHIBUM” pays homage to women, synchronized swimming and other aquatic sports, offering a more classical take on the Olympics. Swimming amidst a sea of stripes, vintage-inspired illustrations of swimmers give an athletic, yet super feminine touch to each pair of espadrilles. Let’s just say that the women of Rio can now dance to Samba, while sporting some Olympic spirit on their feet!
At the moment, I am also working on a project that will brighten international spotlights on Brazilian fashion. Although the nature of my work may vary – and its subject as well – one thing is certain: it always seeks to bring some “Bossa” – Rio’s je ne se quais, a charming flair that is natural to Cariocas – to local fashion. Blame it all on Rio!
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