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By Felicity Clarke, Senior Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO – Whilst the creative echelons of the fashion world are over the approaching summer before it’s begun and moving towards 2011’s lines, the rest of us have a hot, sunny season fast approaching and all the associated style questions that brings. Last week’s Alto Verão Carioca, a fashion industry event from the same people behind Fashion Rio, offered some Carioca fashion answers with the Summer 2010/2011 collections from the big name brands and smaller emerging labels in the city.

Summer fashion from Carioca label Juliana Faro, photo by Felicity Clarke.

The fifth edition of Alto Verão Carioca took place in various locations in Ipanema from September 14th to 17th with the intention of promoting Rio fashion creativity and style to the city’s influential buyers. Major exhibiting brands included Maria Bonita Extra, the twenty year-old brand with stores in Ipanema, Leblon and Shopping Rio Sul, whose current collection works their signature romantic look with flowing feminine pieces and fresh floral prints. Another big name but with a completely different aesthetic, the popular Osklen‘s Summer 2010/2011 collection continues the label’s clean, minimalist style with designer Oskar Metsavaat creating a collection of whites and blues inspired by the ocean.

However the highlights of this year’s event were not the established brands, but the new, emerging labels. Exhibiting in custom spaces, labels were given the opportunity to introduce their label’s whole ethos, including Balmeare, who presented a bright and playful collection of summer pieces with patchwork color, cotton smocking and strong feminine shapes inspired by the flower busy lizzies.

Juliana Faro‘s water-inspired collection also stood out. The eight year old label with a flagship store in Rio Design Barra has an artfully thrown together vintage aesthetic but in a sleek Rio way. The Summer 2010/2011 ‘Aguas’ collection mixes luscious fabrics and retro cuts to create alternatively sexy pieces.

Maria Extra Bonita at Alto Verão Carioca, photo by Felicity Clarke.

Going against the traditional Carioca fashion grain, artist Tatti Simões’ collection ‘Shakespeare e o Amor’ takes inspiration from the bard, using a darker color pallet and romantic costume detailing with elements of fantasy and fun whilst remaining wearable. To check out the dramatic collection, most suitable for eveningwear, visit the store on Rua Visconde de Pirajá in Ipanema.

Beachwear is obviously an area of style concern in Rio with beach fashion a carioca signature (three words: dental floss bikini). Beachwear brands making a splash at Alto Verão Carioca included Marcela Coimbra’s Vitess label which presented a butterfly-inspired collection with a multitude of bikini options in a range of classic butterfly print designs. Taking a more eclectic approach, Gaúcha Rio’s tropical prints, acid brights and unusual cuts made for some eye-catching beach style.

In the heat of summer, accessories play a more important role in creating a look. Rio accessory label highlights included Mixer Atelier‘s exuberant patchwork bags, DonaDeQuê‘s delicate floral headpieces and the fashion collective Retalhos Cariocas who presented their latest customized Havaianas designs.

Ana Paula Fonte, from SENAI Moda e Design, the arm of Sistema FIRJAN that organizes Alto Verão Carioca and Fashion Rio thereby providing the biggest platforms for promoting Rio style, is excited by the new labels emerging in Rio at the moment, saying; “The new brands at Alto Verão Carioca have received a lot of praise. They’re creating new, quite different designs.”

The next Fashion Rio, the city’s big style showcase where new and emerging labels will show to an international audience is set for January 2011.

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