SAO PAULO--Wunderkind designer Pedro Lourenço (he's just 21) presented his resort collection at Sao Paulo fashion week this past week. It's his first resort collection and the first time he's ever shown his designs in his hometown even though both his parents are designers there--he showed his first two collections in Paris to much critical acclaim.
Lourenço presented his collection a la runway shows of yore (and Tom Ford last year): in an intimate setting in the back room of a luxe hotel in Sao Paulo, Lourenço stood in the center of the room with a microphone and described each look in his collection, one model at a time. Occasionally Lourenço would forget a detail, and ask the model to come scurrying back and turn her around to show off a particular seam or fabric.
Of course, I was inferring all of this as Lourenço presented his collection in Portuguese (luckily he was on hand to translate later). But it was easy to tell just from looking at the clothes that they were a slight departure from his past two leather-heavy collections. Lourenço's 2012 resort collection is more mainstream and marketable--there's far less leather (almost none), bold prints (parrots and palm trees), bright color blocking (the trend for resort) and neat little tricks like dresses with flaps that zip open and are fastened with magnets to reveal a bright embroidered patterns on tweed underneath.
While Lourenço's past two collections showed off his mastery with leather, the pieces that look like leather in his resort collection are actually made of resin from a Seringueira tree, which is native to Brazil. The technique used to turn the tree's resin into something wearable originated in the Amazon. Obviously, Lourenço's most recent collection is heavily inspired by his native land. So why the departure from leather? And why look to Brazil now?
"I wanted to do something for my country, but i wanted to mix that with my DNA," he explained. "It's my first resort collection and I'm really inspired by Brazil so I thought, why not bring something very Brazilian in because it's so resort--it just makes sense."
Lourenço is just 21, but you'd only know it to see his baby face in person. His clothes reflect the experience and maturity of a designer twice his age. So it was only natural that his young age and mature designs garnered a lot of buzz. What does he think about it?
"I actually work hard and [the buzz] is a result of my work," he said matter-of-factly (or maybe he was sick of answering this question). "I've been working since I was thirteen."
Lourenço's parents Reinaldo Lourenço and Gloria Coelho are both renowned designers in Brazil, so he grew up in the biz. "I've been going with them to Paris and to factories since I was a baby," Lourenço said.
"It's genetic," his father said after the show. "He's shocked me [with his talents] more than anything I've taught him. When he was three or four I heard the sewing machine going on its own and when I went over to check Pedro had put a needle in the machine and was using it."
Check out Pedro Lourenço's impressive third collection. Barney's has the exclusive on it in New York, and while I was in Brazil, Elizabeth Charles scooped it up for her eponymous San Francisco boutique.
**All photos: Style.com