When asked to cover Fashion Rio for Hint, I was as apprehensive as I was excited, the Southern Hemisphere being a foreign planet to me. What’s a consummate urbanite with a fear of the sea to do in the city of world-famous beaches and flip flops? And, with the locals’ obsession with perfectly sculpted bodies and Giselean pulchritude, how would my own scrawny physique, so au courant in Brooklyn, fare among a sea of half-naked hunks and amazons?
But two days into my “work” and I’m in love. It’s the postcard Rio I had envisioned. Lay on the beach any time and it’s like a Testino fantasy come true, with toned, tan bodies and baffling amounts of flirting. Plus, the people aren’t just hot, but arrestingly nice. And the Sugarloaf is ridiculously…well, Sugarloafy. But amid the spectacular natural setting—jungle-covered mountains everywhere—there’s a bustling world-class city sprinkled with Niemeyer architectural gems and old-world grandeur. Add to that my addiction to coconut water, available everywhere here, and way fresher and half the price than the packaged stuff at Whole Foods, and I’m in heaven. In fact, I might move here. Maybe.
But back to the raison d’être for this surreal excursion. Once recovered from the long champagne-fueled flight—business class, mind you—and a happily resolved lost-luggage snafu, I settled into my room in Ipanema and prepared for the first day of the shows. Things got off to a good start with the popular hipster label Ausländer. I liked the nods to familiar Northern Hemisphere designers—Gareth Pugh comes to mind—but with a uniquely Carioca twist. In a Hollywood finale, the ladies (and some “ladies”) in the house shrieked with delight when Rodrigo Santoro, former soap hunk and budding international movie star, closed the show in very manly, if galactic, shoulder pads.
Now I’m off to explore Centro, the city’s historic—and a little chaotic—downtown district. People seem to think I’m some random Brazilian kid, so I should be safe on my own.