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Jet Set Life: A Twirl Around the Fashion World

So this is how the jet set live. Within a four-week period this Summer, I found myself in Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, New York, Paris, Milan and Thessaloniki, Greece in search of the fashion trends for Spring 2006. Okay, fine, so a few of those stops were layovers. But if what I saw during my global jaunt exemplifies next Spring’s look, we’re all in for a season of diverse fabrics, light fabrication, bold prints, and many amazing details.

First stop: Rio
rio.jpgFirst, I was off to Rio Fashion Week. The government-sponsored program targets companies interested in importing fashion from Brazil and I leapt at the invitation. The week is chock-full of fashion shows from the country’s major designers, and as importers of Brazilian swimwear, we were eager to find new vendors and identify trends set to dominate the forthcoming Summer season in the southern hemisphere.

The event focused heavily on women’s fashion but a few bright spots on the men’s side made the trip worthwhile. In swimwear, BlueMan stole the show (they’ve consistently been the top vendor in both men’s and women’s swimwear in Brazil). Their collection celebrated the diversity of the organic combinations alive in the Brazilian landscape. The fits maintained the consistency we’ve come to appreciate over the years (from bikinis and squarecuts to the longer board shorts) in colors both warm and cool. On the cooler side, jewel tones (blues, emerald greens and raspberry reds) stood out, giving the collection a hint of sophistication and subtlety.

blueman.jpgIn contrast, bright floral prints (in vibrant yellows, reds and greens) against light, solid backgrounds the collection back to its original inspiration and celebrated the Hawaiian dream vacation with graphics of pineapples and floral combinations.

Redley’s collection was also a stand-out. The brand--also a staple among Brazilian youth--featured colorful tees (in light pinks and blues) and amazing board shorts that elevated surf fashion to a new level with printed graphics and embroidered detailing.

Next stop: Greece
greece.jpgBack from Rio on a Saturday afternoon, I was on my way to the airport again two hours later. Destination this time: a charming resort town one hour away from Thessaloniki, Greece--Diesel’s chosen site to unveil its Spring 2006 collection. To inspire its designers, Diesel sends its entire design team to a different locale each season to identify the fabrics, graphics, details and overall feel they want to incorporate in the next collection. Designers this year were sent to Japan to explore Japanese Rocker scene and cultural iconography that would eventually inspire the collection (Brazil, Russia and the Norwegian tundra were muses in recent years).

Diesel then gathers its management in a fabulous location (Crete or Berlin, anyone?) for the fashion show and for two to three days of seminars where designers describe their inspiration, fabrication and detailing of each individual piece. My invitation was contingent on my ability to keep my mouth shut as to any specifics, but suffice it to say that it was one of the strongest collections I’ve seen from Diesel. The show--set in a converted soccer stadium--was designed to create a sensory overload with 20 or so stunning Italian models (twins included) and an impressive pyrotechnics display set to a hypnotic drum beat. Highlights of the collection included fantastic pants (perfect for those looking for an alternative to the denim craze) and lightweight shirts--much of it with military-inspired detailing.

But the most memorable part of my week was taking part in the Diesel love fest. These events bring together more than 600 Diesel employees from all over the world (New Zealanders attend seminars alongside their Colombian, Korean and Serbian counterparts). The resulting atmosphere is electrifying--with intense networking, reminiscing with friends from across the globe and, as one would expect, exuberant social gatherings lasting well into the wee hours. The young, loyal staff (most employees I met had been with Diesel for several years) were passionate about the brand, and their excitement was contagious.

Last Stop: New York City
nyc.jpgWith only a few days of office work in between, we were once again packing our bags for the PROJECT Show in New York. The trade show creator--a retailer himself--wanted to create a sophisticated space for menswear directional brands and innovative retailers to work together. It now attracts old favorites (like 7 for All Mankind, Ben Sherman and G-Star) as well as newer brands (like Modern Amusement and True Religion).

At Project as was the case in our other stops, the common thread across the board seemed to be in the rich detailing. With a crowded marketplace--especially in denim--manufacturers are stepping up their game with studs, embroidery, zippers, stitching, washes and treatments to make the garment stand out.

As globalization becomes the norm and as communication barriers tumble, it’s not surprising that fashion has followed suit. The fashion jet set--now more than ever--takes its inspiration from points all over the globe bringing together creative, sexy and ultimately very wearable clothing for the rest of us to enjoy.

-- Ricardo