Report by: Mulenga Hornsby
When the Duchess of Cambridge stepped out in a slinky cream number that showed off her sunkissed shoulders last week, she looked feminine, fresh and just the right side of sexy. The dress was by Brazilian designer Barbara Casasola, while her vertiginous four-inch heels were from Schutz, another Brazilian brand, signalling that the country is having a definite 'fashion moment'. It was also an Olympic-level stroke of genius by the Duchess, née Kate Middleton, who is now a diplomatic dressing powerhouse, given that the Rio Games 2016 are just under a month away.
With bold colours, eye-popping prints and curve-hugging shapes, Brazilian style packs more zing than a newly poured caipirinha. And in an exclusive interview Rio-born Daniella Helayel, founder and former creative director of Issa, the label behind Kate’s unforgettable royal blue engagement dress, tells us how we too can inject some Latin joie de vivre into our wardrobes.
Kate's knock out look at an art gala was another coup for Brazilian fashion
London-based Daniella, whose "Brazilian soul and Brazilian spirit" is reflected in her new samba-worthy collection for Monsoon, says that her homeland's fashion is all about body confidence.
"With literally thousands of beaches in Brazil and miles of coastline, the beach influences fashion a lot and the swimwear industry is very important. But you also have the most amazing nature and beautiful colours. So the women here love vivid hues, textures and prints. My sense of colour is very Brazilian and this heritage influences designers a lot.
Back in 2010 Rio-born Daniella Helayel created Kate's engagement dress
"Architecture is very important too. I grew up on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro in Niteroi, which is linked to the centre of the city by a 14 km-long bridge. We say the most beautiful view in Rio is from Niteroi.
Daniella loves brands like Isolda which celebrate the lush landscape
"When you look across Guanabara Bay you see the Sugar Loaf Mountain, the iconic Cristo Redentor statue and all the boats sailing in the bay. My grandmother's house in Niteroi is next to the MAC, the Museum of Contemporary Art, built by Oscar Niemeyer and where Louis Vuitton held a show for their cruise collection recently.
"We Brazilians are excellent at design in general – graphic art, art and architecture, and this skill is reflected in the fashion world too. Brazilian women are very carefree and natural, but also groomed, taking great pride in their appearance. They like to get all dressed up, enjoying being very feminine in general, with impeccable hair and nails.
The designer's new collection for Monsoon is inspired by the country's vibrant hues
"The women love jewellery and accessories. Brazil is the country where the most hair accessories are sold. You don’t see one child without a bow in their hair or some flower or a little tiara!
Her dresses are created to give women confidence in their natural shape
"You'll notice that my dresses are very simple. They never have buttons, the zippers are always invisible and the cut is very simple, so the woman wearing them feels free to accessorise as she wishes.
"I always wanted to make clothes for real women like me. Women with bums and boobs, and smaller waists. Brazilian women in general are very voluptuous and they just embrace their curves. Confidence is key. On Copacabana you see all shapes and sizes… and women in their 70s wearing bikinis, and everyone is very comfortable with their bodies."
Lolitta is another contemporary label that's hot right now
DANIELLA'S SECRET SHOPPING SPOTS
1.Since life revolves around the beach and a lot of flirting is done there, swimwear is very important. To make sure all eyes are on you try Salinas, Adriana Degreas or my friend Lenny Niemeyer. Lenny's bikinis are like works of art and I feel so sexy and confident in them.
2.Brazil has some amazing brands for fine jewellery. I love Silvia Furmanovich, Ara Vartanian and Ana Khouri.
3. For high fashion I would check out Reinaldo Lourenço and Paula Raya who make beautiful clothes. There's also Patricia Viera, who is known as Brazil's queen of leather because she can make dresses, trousers, anything out of it!
4.Try the brands Isolda and Lolitta for more affordable contemporary looks.
Lane Marinho shoes featuring shells and stones are popular in Brazil
5.When it comes to footwear, there are great shoes at Schutz, where I buy my espadrilles.
6.Another top tip is Felipa, a very cute shop which only sells espadrilles.
7.And one brand cool Brazilians like right now for shoes is called Lane Marinho. The designs are all handmade, inspired by materials such as rope, shells and stones.
Lenny Niemeyer is the go-to brand for beautiful beachwear