Osklen F/W 2008, Sao Paolo

Brazilian label Osklen has been very, very slowly bubbling up in global fashion consciousness for some time now. Beginning with founder Oskar Metsavaht’s need to make a winter jacket, Osklen became known in the late 90s into a beachwear and casualwear line known for its casual sportiness and Brazilian exuberance. But Metsavaht’s got more than beach sports on the brain; a former medical doctor by profession, he clearly is taking his label into luxury lifestyle territory — but a lifestyle founded on the principles of sustainability and environmental responsibility. (He even started e-Institute, a Brazilian consortium composed of scientists, designers, and artists in search of an urban lifestyle that respects and integrates with nature; e-Institute are also responsible for the e-fabrics initiative, which researchs and creates new fabrics that respect the biodiversity and unique eco-system of Brazil.) Osklen was even recently profiled in Vogue, and along with more store openings both in Tokyo and New York, the Brazilian label is poised to become an international name.
Osklen’s longtime eco-credentials may be the tipping point for the label, but happily the attention has also coincided with the increasing sophistication of Metsavaht’s designs, going way beyond a stereotypical sexiness into something truly global. His latest runway collection was just shown at Sao Paolo Fashion Week and revealed the use of shapes and proportions that are increasingly influenced by other fashion traditions, making for an artful, eye-catching array of dresses, tunics and coats. A series of cocktail frocks, for example, use what look like recycled seatbelts to evoke the severity and futuristic sexiness of Alaia and latter-day Balenciaga, particularly in the detailing at the bodice and the “bandage” effect of the fabric; layered tunics with their nonchalant drape definitely echo a very Japanese take on sportwear, found in the best of Yohji Yamamoto or Comme des Garcons. But Osklen’s use of vivacious color and patterns, however, still remain true to its Brazilian roots without being folkloric, and make the label its entirely own uniquely casual, joyful thing with a warmth that sometimes is lacking in fashion’s upper stratosphere.
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Catch the entire show over at The Fashion Spot.