Brazil’s first indigenous fashion show “a form of resistance”

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Manaus (Brazil) (AFP) – Proudly wearing majestic feathered headdresses, the models sing a hymn to rain as a makeup artist draws geometric patterns on their faces, arms and thighs in preparation for Brazil’s first indigenous fashion show.

“It’s a feeling of happiness and pride,” 19-year-old model Moan Munduruku told AFP before his runway shift in Manaus, Brazil’s Amazon.

“We are very eager to showcase our talent, in sewing, in craftsmanship. To show the world that indigenous people can also be successful” in fashion, she said.

Designers use natural elements in their creations, such as feathers, spear-shaped teeth of the peccary - an Amazonian boar - the red fruit of guarana, acai seeds and coconut shells.
Designers use natural elements in their creations, such as feathers, spear-shaped teeth of the peccary – an Amazonian boar – the red fruit of guarana, acai seeds and coconut shells. Michael Dantas AFP

Moan is one of 37 models – women and men – representing 15 indigenous groups from Brazil to take part in the month-long Intercultural Indigenous Fashion Exhibition in the largest city in the Brazilian Amazon.

Throughout the month of April, the catwalk will host the creations of 29 indigenous designers.

“It’s a form of resistance, a way to overcome stereotypes,” event organizer Reby Ferreira, 27, told AFP.

“Here in Manaus, unfortunately, many people are ashamed or even afraid to acknowledge that they have indigenous blood. Our goal is for everyone to feel included and show our culture to everyone through these clothes.”

The indigenous fashion show is the first for Brazil
The indigenous fashion show is the first for Brazil Michael Dantas AFP

Designers use natural elements in their creations, including the spear-shaped teeth of the peccary – an Amazonian boar – the red fruit of guarana, acai seeds and coconut shells.

The same geometric motifs displayed by the models are repeated in the fabrics that surround them.

The audience also wore clothes that represent their cultural roots
The audience also wore clothes that represent their cultural roots Michael Dantas AFP

“My dress evokes the ritual (of maturity) of the Ticuna girl,” said Kimpuramana, a 17-year-old model who sports a white dress decorated with black diagonal stripes.

On the runway, a presenter announces the ethnicity of each model and explains the symbolism behind the clothes and accessories they wear.

Saturday’s show was hosted at the Rio Negro Palace, an early 1900s building that now serves as a cultural center.

“I feel privileged to have been able to participate in such an event in this place. We are generally excluded from such sites. Today I can see my people telling their story through fashion,” said the participant Bianca Mura, 24.

As the models took to the catwalk to applause of appreciation, thousands of Brazilian natives gathered in the capital Brasilia, some 3,500 kilometers (2,175 miles) away, for an annual mass camping event called Terra Livre (Free Land).

Throughout the month of April, the catwalk shows will show the creations of 29 indigenous designers
Throughout the month of April, the catwalk shows will show the creations of 29 indigenous designers Michael Dantas AFP

The rally is both a rally for indigenous rights and a protest against the government of far-right president Jair Bolsonaro, which is in favor of opening indigenous reserves – already hit hard by deforestation – to mining and agricultural companies.

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