RIO DE JANEIRO — The Girl from Ipanema had a Parisian touch Thursday, as Maria Bonita Extra fielded a winter 2012 collection of bourgeois cocktail dresses that look as if they'd be more at home in a Haussmanian apartment than on the sands of Copacabana.
In silk chemisier dresses and cocktail numbers with constructed skirts that stood out through the hips, the models looked like something out of a 1970-era film set in one of Paris' beaux quartiers.
The ultra-abbreviated hemlines, however, gave the clothes a youthful freshness: In the tres bourgeois collection's sole shout out to Brazil, some of the dresses were so short they looked like swimwear.
Guests were still scrambling for their seats when the lights went down and a model appeared, toting a plastic clutch kitted out with glowing lights. But that was the sole gimmick in the collection, one of the strongest yet in the first three days of Rio's five-day fashion extravaganza. Maria Bonita Extra is the second, less expensive line of the established Maria Bonita label.
Another second line, New Order, proved it knows how to work a theme.
The accessories label under Brazilian megabrand Osklen delivered an all-leather take on a 1960s-era aviation look, sending out models in blue, nude, orange and gold lame shift dresses. There was a clean, graphic appeal to the clothes, though a few of the pieces — like a pair of leather coveralls that folded awkwardly at the crotch as the model walked — looked like they'd be more comfortable on a hanger than on a human body.
The accessories breathed wit: Neck pillows were fitted out with straps and carried as purses, while lunch bags in translucent plastic served as clutches. The jewelry included gilded pilot wing pins.
Soft drinks in space was the theme of the collection by Coca Cola Clothing, an apparel license of Atlanta-based drink company. The presentation opened with a light show featuring a giant Coke bottle shooting into orbit, and the clothes that followed looked like what the crew on this unusual intergalactic craft might wear: moon boots emblazoned with Coke's cursive label and fluorescent shift dresses like space stewardesses' uniforms.
Espaco Fashion delivered a strong collection of drop-waisted flapper dresses with Art Deco details. The label served up the dresses in chiffon printed with mosaics of what appeared to be Rio cityscapes, drained of the city's trademark saturated colors. Patches of feathers and dangling chains added a debonaire sophistication to the bold looks.
Bianca Marques' debut on the Rio calendar opened with some fine footwork by a ballerina, who pirouetted at the top of the runway between two gilded candlesticks to a soundtrack of Space Age blips. The delicate display set the tone for the collection of frilly, romantic, girly dresses. Everything glowed a soft pink, like the inside of a seashell, and some of the looks were covered in pearls. Marques used to design for Maria Bonita Extra.