Rio’s spandex creations shine at city’s new fashion event

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — The city that gave the world the dental floss bikini is back in the fashion limelight with a whole new concept of what a runway show can be in the age of see-now, buy-now instant gratification.

Rio Moda Rio, a three-day extravaganza that concluded on Friday, wrenched fashion out of the clutches of the rarified clique of fashion insiders and opened it up to the public — ultimately, the brands’ consumers.

The brainchild of producer Duda Magalhaes, the event was at the intersection of fashion, commerce and entertainment. Open to the ticket-buying public, it included not only runway shows but also lectures, demonstrations, food trucks and stands. Eight of the 14 labels that staged runway shows at the event also had pop-up stores where impatient consumers could immediately purchase what struck their fancy.

“This is the way of the future,” said Magalhaes, adding that he believed fashion capitals like Paris, Milan and New York would probably soon adapt a similar model. “It’s a happy coincidence that we’re the first.”

Rio Moda Rio also marked the return of a major fashion event to the city, which saw its fashion week cancelled two years ago as the industrial powerhouse to the south, Sao Paulo, snatched the title of Brazil’s fashion capital.

Lenny Neimeyer, the grande dame of sophisticated swimwear, said she was thrilled to be showing her celebrated beachwear in this seaside metropolis.

“Rio is known for its chic beach lifestyle, so it’s only natural that we show here,” she said ahead of her show — a Japanese-inspired collection of bikinis with matching emerald-hued kimonos.

The models strode a catwalk built around a Zen garden, where a gardener patiently raked away. The collection scored a standing ovation, as did the gardener as he put down his rake and walked away.

The Japanese influence was also palpable at Osklen, a Rio-based brand that has forged an international reputation for its high-minded sportswear. Models in origami pants and flowing kimono-like robes walked along the edge of Rio’s Guanabara Bay, the setting sun glinting off the waters and bathing them in golden light.

At bikini brand BlueMan, male and female models left little to the imagination in itsy-bitsy swimwear of the sort that Rio is known for. Carnival pulsed through the collection, which ended with a high-voltage performance of by a “passinha” group, breaking out the latest style of dance moves to have originated in Rio’s slums.

“This is what it’s all about,” said event producer Magalhaes as the audience crowded around the dancers. “Rio is not just about fashion. It’s about creativity, fun, excitement. We want to give designers a stage for their creativity and get the public in on the fun.”

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