The gaúchas, or cowgirls, of Rio Grande do Sul (Brazil's southernmost state) were the inspiration for Carlos Miele's Fall show. Miele, a Brazilian, has always drawn from his country's rich heritage, but this collection, more than others, felt especially indebted to a specific people and place. A prelude of Latin beats spun by the Brazilian brothers Anthony and Sean Souza (sons of Carlos, the popular, long-serving Valentino public relations executive) set the mood, and then the first look out dropped the audience squarely in cattle country. A pair of cropped and roomy crepe pants and a soft wool poncho came topped with a flat, black bolero.
The pants would have been perfect for horseback riding, and the cape was inset with a wide band of patterned woven silk. The geometric interweaving on the cape was Miele's interpretation of the region's traditional embroideries, but the hat, like a few textiles used throughout the show, was
a real-deal gaúcha original. With the mood thus established, Miele promptly riffed on the theme, sending out über-chic daywear and evening gowns that would feel out of place, to say the least, among livestock.
For night, the idea of banded embroidery translated into a cocktail dress made of horizontal strips of thinly spaced silk. The ribbons, azure blue, were attached to a nude tulle underlay, and they moved apart as the model walked, creating the impression of a Venetian blind peeking open and shut. Sexy, it got a sophisticated boost from the delicately beaded bolero worn with it. The boleros were a highlight, and their assured simplicity made up for the too-shiny lamé on some dresses and the riot of treatments on another (draped pleats and fringe and metal coin appliqués, for example). But a more-is-more attitude is a central part of this brand's DNA,
and Miele succeeded in creating the requisite sense of luxury without going over the top. He obviously felt at home this season. The pampas were a sweet place to set up shop.