When you see the name of Ronaldo Fraga in the line-up a week of fashion, one thing is certain: way beyond trends, what you’ll see on the catwalk is a parade with soul, color and history. It’s like a show in which the clothes tell the viewer a little of the work of Carlos Drummond de Andrade and Guimarães Rosa, or the songs of Lupicínio Rodrigues and Nara Leão. He is possibly the creator more values culture and the Brazilian roots in their collections, but also one who knows how anyone translate different universes as the German dancer Pina Bausch and urgent and current themes as the refugee crisis. Abuse of color without losing the elegance while fleeing from the usual molds proposes, reinventing itself every season. Just by seeing the fashion as a “vector”, Ronaldo can extrapolate the boundaries of world fashion and, with sensitivity and poetry, take to the catwalk everything enchants.
—Fashion talk politics, talks about economy, speaks of culture. What is fashion? Is a time efficient registration—summarized the stylist in a chat with Donna in late August, when he was in Porto Alegre to launch a collection in partnership with the Pompeii.
Maybe it’s just by going against the grain that the miner has trodden a path that led him to be considered today one of the largest designers of Brazil. The recognition came of out: in 2014, was elected by the Design Museum of London as one of the seven most innovative designers in the world to exhibit in the Designs of the Year, alongside names like Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons, Creative Director of Dior.
Unlike many of his peers, Ronaldo “ever wished your career, had no mother or sisters seamstress proving dresses at home and never played with dolls”, as presented in the biography of your blog. Started doing laundry because, well, you know. Orphan since 11 years, ended up starting for the fashion world almost by accident – in search of design courses, enrolled in class sets at Senac. Became the highlight of the gang, which earned him a job as a model in a shop in downtown Belo Horizonte. It was there, listening to the wishes of customers and translating everything in more moulds designed by intuition than by verbiage, that Ronaldo Fraga realized what, after all, wanted out of life. Graduated in fashion design at UFMG, won the competition in a weaving and had her passport stamped to study at the Parsons School of Design, one of the most renowned New York fashion schools. From there, picked up another four years of study in London at Saint Martins School-next to one of the four brothers, the designer also Rodrigo Fraga.
For your debut on the runways, in 1996, was a leap. With the collection I love chicken Heart, modeled face Phytoervas Fashion–that later would win the name Morumbi Fashion to become, finally, São Paulo Fashion Week in 2001. Since then, already signed 41 collections–the next will be given on Wednesday, on the catwalk of SPFWTransN42. It’s a little bit of these more than two decades of work that Ronaldo Fraga brings to Porto Alegre in November, with the exhibition Book, Memoirs and Sketches.
— There’s a lot of my universe and graphic record, and of course, some pieces from various collections — the stylist.
The show includes five environments and will be installed in the Gallery of the House of Culture Sotero Cosme Mario Quintana-same place, in fact, where Ronaldo has granted the interview you read below.
Interview! With the word, Ronaldo Fraga
Their parades always tell a story beyond the clothes. In the last SPFW, you took to the catwalk to refugee saga and thrilled the audience. As you see this social bias that fashion can load?
The sets, by itself, is a vector as few with power to establish dialogues with other fronts. Fashion talk politics, talks about economy, speaks of culture. What is fashion? Is the efficient registration of a time. You study a time for choices of people what to wear. At the time that fashion is going through, from the chopping block, which will ensure that she get out of the doldrums that come along and you don’t enact your own demise is the liberation of clothes. Namely, that fashion pass talking about other things and assume that power. When this happens, you can educate, inform and train people through fashion history.
Also in your last show, you brought the trans model Camila Ribeiro to the catwalk. As you see this inclusive role of fashion?
Today, the world is experiencing a moment of spotlight. We’re at war. And this war reveals us that we come to the situation is because we live in a world intolerant of differences, with everything. The challenge of the modern world is the question of tolerance. All the people are living, as the migratory crisis in Europe, the increase of the extreme right in the world, all this part of intolerance of differences – racial, sexual orientation, on social issues. It’s something that you can’t get a break, you can’t blink. Is a constant vigil.
Since your first show, references to the culture of Brazil are always present. More than a mark of your work, do you consider this approach your responsibility as a stylist?
I always saw this in a natural way. I’m just going to talk about what makes my eyes shine, which is part of my training. In this case, it is my cultural reference. I have already spoken of Pina Bausch (dancer and choreographer, who died in 2009 and inspired the 2010 Winter parade), China (in January 2007), Latin America (June 2009). But, to talk and watch the other, have to have my solid cultural references. It’s always been natural for me. Some people tell me: “But it wasn’t easy, isn’t it?”. Actually, it wasn’t. At the beginning, I faced a lot of criticism. When I started the parade, some journalists spoke: “here comes the Carnival”. This whole theme, plot and story is just at Carnival. It was only at the Carnival, but today is already something common. Today, the journalist sits down with any any designer brand and question what the history of the collection. But it wasn’t like that. And it’s not just the journalist, but a lawyer with whom I cross at the airport also asks me what the next story collection, you know? This is really cool.
Yet we realize a lot of prejudice linked to fashion, especially for sectors and authorities who don’t understand your artistic and cultural bias. What’s your opinion?
The sector itself still has difficulty seeing, and it’s not just of fashion, doesn’t. In the country, is still too near the sets seen as cultural vector. But it’s very recent architecture also be seen as cultural vector-like product design. The history of design, culture and acculturation of the drawing, is a great challenge. It’s something that should have been taught, the question of ethics and aesthetics, since childhood. That’s what happens when you talk in Danish design, Japanese design, because it’s something that began to be taught at school in the back.
And how do you see that that could change?
I think is much better. I’m part of a generation that began to discuss it some other way.
We are living in a time when, much as if you have a lot of walking, Brazil is more author in the design than it was 10, 20 years. And I hope this scenario did not return.
Today we discussed and we value increasingly slow fashion and conscious consumption. We pay attention to what we’re buying and consuming. You can see this aspect as a path?
In fact, will have room for everyone. Now, for example, the sets discovered the see now, buy now, and it makes sense, not only because of the crisis, but because the parade will automatically enter people’s homes. At the time that the shopkeeper will buy, put on the rack and get to the consumer, it’s over, so you need new stimuli. You need to make the clothes arrive faster and a little more agile. There, you ask me if the fashion will walk this way: too.
But in counterpoint, will be betting on the slow fashion designers, in the back of the workshop, tailored clothing, clothing. Will always have room for everyone. Now, something that no pisco eyes is the question of the working condition of my clothing or pieces that I sign. Not long ago, there was a statement by my saying that fast fashion brands Gringo drip blood. Most Yes, because it produces in India, in Asian countries, with unreasonable working conditions in such cooking vessels. A sneakers cost $15? It does not exist. It has buzz there behind. In this work with the Pompeii and with other companies that I’ve done, I tried to go into the factory to see the seamstresses, the conditions under which they were making the pieces, signed by me. It’s a wake that I seek to have.
And you can glimpse some possibility of fast fashion win new features as a way to renew?
The fast fashion in the world begins to show signs of wear. Not for nothing, the fast fashion brands seek increasingly with the partnership. The product remained unchanged, everything is like that. The fight is only for price.
When you give access to people to buy it, she’s going to want more. Begins to understand, of raw materials. About it I say I am an optimist, I always believe in evolution.
Here is how to give back. Is always forward.
His work has always been far beyond the catwalk and the showcases, including line of uniforms for the football team. Do you think this is a way to bring fashion to other environments and survive the crisis?
There are two stories here. My role as a designer, I say it should be my civil commitment, more than taking a product, but take it to people in a way that is not the absolute truth, but a possible way to do the drawing. The thinking about the Brazilian drawing. For me, it is extremely pleasurable exercise that make me and I accept work from with cooperatives, employment and income generation with cultural appropriation, a football team, bed, bath & beyond the label of sparkling wine. I love this. Build what is expensive and I know the value, that is such a signature identity, today I have the freedom to sign, go through different areas and get away with it.
Today we talk a lot on fair production. In your work, you always sought to enhance national production. That has always been essential to you?
Besides the production fair, there is one thing that is the strengthening of the domestic industry. A country with no industry loses the soul, because it’s not just the economic issue, the culture of a people goes through what he produces. It’s hard for me to imagine the situation you’re going through the brazilian textile industry.
I find that very sad. In the latter case, use raw material gringa. My emotion is talking about that, in my collection, 100% of which was used was produced in Brazil, has generated job here, strengthened the Brazil brand. I think that’s the big story.
Your store in Belo Horizonte closed last year after it was stolen, and has just been reopened with new format. What you have prepared again?
This space comes from an old project. Is the great Ronaldo Fraga Hotel, where I am hosting ideas, hosting a universe. The fashion is going through a crisis ferocious as they have two powerful competitors: the experiences and digital entertainment. Today, people give a gift iPhone or an iPhone, something connected to it, but not a dress. Laundry, shopping for her.
Today, when a friend goes to the outside won’t say who was in a store in Japan or barbaric in the interior of Spain. He turns and says he was in a bistro, a restaurant, and you’ll cross the world to go to that place. Are the experiences. Fashion needs to bring some of that entertainment and information. Why I thought in that space, which is a 600-square-meter house, 1920, tumbled by historical heritage. You’re going to have barber shop, cafe, wine shop, bookstore, the site of Natalia Dornellas, Department of menswear, which is my brother stylist will do, Rodrigo Fraga. I’m so excited.
And how do you see fashion in Brazil today?
The Brazilian has a taste for fashion. All sexes, any social level, who passes by the front of the TV and watch a parade will stop to watch. The parade has a fascination in Brazil, which is very even. What’s so great about all this? People are increasingly gaining and exercising your daily character construction, which is the autoralidade. On the other, we are seeing this crisis that is decimating the brazilian textile industry. Is a growing dependency of Asian production. Times are hard and tough, but I think we’re going to.
You just on Angola Fashion Week. How was that experience?
It was wonderful to go to Africa a collection inspired from that universe. Angola is a country which is going through a terrible economic and political situation. It was probably one of the darkest places where I’ve touched the feet, but also with the kindest people. The young man is thirsty for information, and the reference to them is Brazil, the brazilian culture. I think I did my part to take a show that speaks differently than they have seen, and I loved the experience.
And the fashion icon award, which you received from the Istituto Europeo di Design, as was this recognition?
It was delicious! I got the trophy JK in Minas for anyone who has done anything for the culture of the State and also the Trip transformers. Is recognition of your work. More than that, my darkest me ego won’t ignite with the award. The more fun it is to stimulate a new generation of designers who can look at my track record and think: “is it possible”, which, at the time, did not.
Do you think we are seeing new Ronaldos around?
We have a serious problem: Brazil is the country with largest number of colleges of fashion in the world, but has no industry. The creative heads have where exercise and produce. How many people put schools in a market that doesn’t exist? Is saturated. That’s the saddest part. It’s hard to creatives. But you have to be tough.
And how to renew this market so saturated?
The creative heads will always exist, and will always exist who will stick. When I started, I had difficulties that the new generation does not have, but had new generation facilities has not. I think that will always be so, with losses and gains.
Ronaldo, the Brazilian Brazil more creator
By Patrícia Pontalti
Cultural arsonist. Creator. Poet of the walkways. Social critic. Graphic designer fashion. The name of Ronaldo Fraga is always associated with numerous Add-ons and the adjectives “fashion”, all fair to multiple talent from my friend who is the more representative name of fashion essentially brazilian. Fact: Ronaldo reflects, by contemporary bias, different events, characters and circumstances of this Brazil. The hump of Nara, the fossa of Lupicínio, the hinterlands of Guimarães, the tropical characteristics of Tom Zé, the humor and the loves of Drummond, the creative militancy of Zuzu, the fury of the sirens and the transposition of the São Francisco River are part of the Rico ronaldofraguiano, printed repertoire of emotions to wear and always handmade, artistic and magical bias.
Ronaldo moves us because it makes the clothes also a manifest, now soft and sensitive, but that accelerates the heart as a passionate kiss, however strong and powerful, like a slap in the face that makes you want to get out of the daily torpor. Ronaldo causes feelings and surprises always escape the conventional, for not following trends, for our own history and often play the light that many want to forget or are unaware of. And all this by creating beautiful clothes with a unique style, in which you embroidery, natural fabric, handmade, which is Brazil’s face, come together in ways that reveal not the curves, but the essence of who wears. Their parades cause tears–mine, always and many.
All you do is sensitive, as he, that every season proves that fashion can flirt with the arts and be more than just a garnish. Ronaldo creates collectibles collections and brand style in a country where it yet – and unfortunately – is rare. Ronaldo makes us believe in the magic of fashion.
And we can only say: thank you, Ronaldo! Follow being arsonist, creator, designer, poet, critic, and what else you want to be! We wait eagerly for every surprise.