By Doug Gray, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – When the likes of Donatella Versace, Marc Jacobs, the artist formerly known as Puff Daddy (now just Diddy) and Mariah Carey roll down the red carpet in Rio, you can be sure of a spectacular night’s entertainment, and that is exactly what followed at the Oi Fashion Rocks party on Saturday night in Gávea.
The city beat off strong competition from Dubai, Shanghai and Mumbai to be the first outside of Europe and the USA to host the star-studded event and The Jockey Club was suitably full to the brim with models, actors, stylists; the great and the good from Brazil’s showbiz world. There was also a decent smattering of devoted Mariah Carey fans who, having shelled out up to R$1,400 for a ticket, did not miss an opportunity to scream every time her image flashed on the big stage screens before things got going.
Following in the footsteps of previous Fashion Rocks that have seen the likes of Chanel and Vivienne Westwood displaying their latest lines alongside musical luminaries such as Whitney Houston, Alicia Keys and Lily Allen, Rio’s inaugural event pulled out all the stops.
First up was an electrifying display by Diddy, sporting an all-white outfit and speeding through hits such as ‘Mo Money, Mo Problems’ and ‘All About The Benjamins’ before devoting ‘I’ll Be Missing You’ to Gianni Versace, and introducing the crowd to Donatella, who was met with suitably rapturous applause.
Brazilian band Stop Play Moon followed, fronted by former model Geanine Marques while models sporting Alexandre Herchcovitch paraded onstage, but the drab music was only slightly lifted by the clothes on display. Another national favorite Wanessa was next on stage, and, along with mentor Ja Rule, she gave an energized performance of the hit ‘Fly’ accompanied by some stunning micro-dresses and evening wear by the Brazilian designer André Lima.
R’n’B star Ciara amazed the crowd with some incredible dance moves and hits ‘One Two Step’ and ‘Love Sex Magic’, with Givenchy providing the elegant men and women’s-wear. Then it was British revelation Estelle who provided a surprising live version of worldwide smash ‘American Boy’ as Lenny’s dazzling swimwear filled the remainder of the stage, and the scene was set for one of the greatest divas of all time to make her entrance.
Grace Jones appeared out of the darkness atop a huge pedestal, looking incredible in huge black cape and g-string to run through a perfect version of ‘Pull Up To My Bumper’ sounding every bit as good as it must have done when it came out in 1981. Marc Jacobs delivered some stunning dresses as Jones returned to the pedestal in new headwear and a wind turbine created the visuals on her now-billowing cape.
After a crowd-pleasing set from Daniela Mercury the scene was set for the performance clearly most were there to see, and her opening song ‘Touch My Body’ was the soundtrack to some refined Calvin Klein designs. Hampered slightly by her own dress, Carey had to be assisted to various parts of the stage by her dancers, but launched into an extended remix of massive hit ‘Fantasy’ to close the show.
There was still time to announce that Fashion Rocks will be returning to Rio in 2010, and there was a genuine feeling of a city celebrating its recent successes as the 2016 Olympic video played overhead and its own anthem ‘Cidade Maravilhosa’ was sung along to by the crowd.