FRAGILE DEMOCRACY

Column by Sarah Weyers | Photo © Sarah Weyers

The sun is shining softly through the big leafs of the carnauberia palm trees that form a perfect line alongside the busy roads of Belo Horizonte, Brazil. The streets remind of those in San Francisco, equally many cars and pedestrians, and similarly steep hills that offer an incredible view. The lighthearted atmosphere in one of the biggest cities of Brazil doesn’t indicate how fragile the state of the democracy currently really seems to be – being the fourth largest democracy in the world only after Indonesia, the US and India, Brazil’s political tension is putting the peace of the country as well as its international standing at risk.

After surrendering to the police and beginning to serve his 12-year sentence in a federal prison at the beginning of April 2018, former president Luiz Ináco Lula da Silva is yet to endorse a new candidate for the upcoming elections. The arrest of the popular leftist candidate has thrown the elections into chaos, dividing the country into supporting crowds and right-oriented counter protests; the political and social tension more extreme than ever.

With politicians across all of Latin America and Africa being involved in what has been described as the biggest bribery and money laundering scandal in modern politics, the involvement of the former president was almost inevitable. The house by the seaside, which was the object of the bribery in da Silva’s case, was only the tip of the iceberg of money laundering and bribery, mostly conducted by one of the largest construction companies globally, Odebrecht.

Now da Silva is to serve over a decade in prison, after the court had reportedly debated for over 10 hours and finally reached a verdict, condoning his actions and enforcing the imprisonment of the 72 year old. It had been argued that the documents provided by Odebrecht representatives were falsified in order to incriminate da Silva, but the court voted 6-5 in his corruption conviction.

Having built a transformational leftist party, da Silva changed the political history of the country and provided improvements in the quality of education, as well as a more stable economy. A local source commented that “Event though he was arrested and he did commit a crime, Lula [da Silva] has done great things for Brazil. People were miserable and now they are just poor. They are still poor, but they are not starving anymore.” Even though imprisoned, the former president still enjoys great sympathy among the Brazilian people, with numbers as high as 31% that would vote for him if he were an available candidate. Narrowing the steep social inequality would have been one of the top priorities if da Silva had been eligible as a candidate to replace current president Michel Temer in October.

Even though US President Donald Trump does not enjoy the utmost popularity among European politicians, Brazilian right wing politician Jair Bolsonaro (Social Liberty Party) seems to be copying some of Trumps moves: Degrading women, lobbying for the gun industry and a free use and availability of weapons to every citizen, as well as inciting hate speech with attacks on women, black people, gay people and indigenous communities. His public speeches and press conferences are often lacking facts and contain mostly rambling and repetitions of phrases – again, a similar tactic as used by POTUS, are fascinating – not as much when transcribed, but definitely when watched live.

While Bolsonaro may not be representative of the general values and morals of the average Brazilian, he and his gun supporting political agenda represent law and order, which, in a country with approximately 60.000 homicides a year is something the pubic longs for.

The danger of the rise of right-wing parties has been proven in history more than once, and yet, they gain popularity all over the world. After Brexit, Trump and the rise of right tendencies in Germany, Austria and France, now Brazil is on the list of countries that rebel against current political representation by voting for the opposing parties; whether this is a favorable strategy for any of these countries or not is yet to be determined.

Overall, the political tension in Brazil may not be as tangible in the streets, and the fragility of the democracy not necessarily visible to foreigners, but as soon as the topic of politics or the upcoming elections come up in conversations, the fear and worries of Brazilian citizens from all across the country become obvious. Which consequences the potential presidency of a far-right candidate will have for both Brazil and the world are concerning; yet, the actual outcome will not be fully known until long after the elections in October.

PLURAL Show

Minas Trend S/S 19 | PLURAL Show | Photos © Agencia Fotosite

The Plural spring/summer 2019 collection was presented at Minas Trend 2018 in Belo Horizonte this past month. Gláucia Fróes, the creative director of the Brazilian brand has found inspiration in art movements and principle forms of geometry, which she translated into abstract patterns. These created prints and cuts that reminded of the first Mondrian paintings; yet more delicate and feminine. Since the constructivism era of art was one of the main inspirations for the collection, the most present colors include strong blue, yellow and red, as well as black.

Minas Trend S/S 19 | PLURAL Show | Photos © Agencia Fotosite

Throughout the runway show at Minas Trends, a development of the collection became visible, and it seems as though the designers dove deeper into their inspirations with every piece created. This appears to be the case due to the different styles created for the Summer season of 2019, including tone in tone outfits on an earthy beige, some of the characteristics of these outfits being the flowing cuts of the pieces. The light fabrics are delicately wrapped around the models, creating soft H, I and X shapes, all whilst slightly reminding of an African Safari summer in the 1960’s. The designer then moves onto the geometric prints on long, flowy dresses, wide legged trousers and multiple layers of fabric to create a soft silhouette.

With silk being one of the main fabrics for this collection, Plural created looks that are feminine, unique and stylish, as well as they enable the woman wearing the pieces to be comfortable and enjoy the Brazilian summer. Since the fashion in Latin America has a high standard of femininity, this collection sets a new sense of freedom- The gowns, kimonos, shorter dresses and blouses are loosely fit, while remaining very feminine and creating a natural I or X silhouette.

Some of the highlight pieces were a neckholder dress of a stiff cotton with pockets and a belt of the same fabric with an asymmetrical hemline, as well as the Mondrian reminding pieces such as a long, belted dress with wide sleeves, and a high slit and v-neck.

MANZAN Show

Minas Trend S/S 19 | MANZAN Show | Photos © Agencia Fotosite

Brazilian fashion brand Manzan presented their spring/summer 2019 collection called ‘Disco Gym’ at this season’s Minas Trend trade show in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. The collection includes a wide range of looks, fabrics and silhouettes, creating a wide range of designs and making the core of the label, which is a loud, fun and excentric design, visible.

Minas Trend S/S 19 | MANZAN Show | Photos © Agencia Fotosite

Beginning the runway show with futuristic, slightly see-through rain coats in different lengths, the label shows a different approach to summer fashion as many other designers, which have so far mainly focused on a variety if silk dresses. Nevertheless, many of the designs by Manzan include dresses as well, creating feminine X-silhouettes with high waisted skirts of soft draping. The sportive look, which the name of the collection indicates, is not visible on every piece, creating a versatile variety of pieces. With volants, draping and ruffles, a playful yet elegant look is created.

Manzan is most likely the label that used the widest range of fabrics in one collection, including silk, cotton, chiffon, lace and PU for the rain jackets. Just as diverse as the fabrics is the colour palette used; it includes soft pink nuances, bright yellow, teal, light apricot, orange and rose tones, putting an emphasis on the season as well as the diversity of this collection.

While many of the looks presented in the Minas Trend’s runway shows are commercial, they have all managed to express the core of the brands, including their creativity, target group and approach of Brazilian fashion design. Balancing the many traditional influences of Latin American fashion with the demand of the Brazilian, as well as the global market, if they wish to expand. And even though this seems to be a struggle many brands have to deal with, all the labels presented in the numerous runway shows have managed to find a unique balance.

FATIMA SCOFIELD Show

Minas Trend S/S 19 | FATIMA SCOFIELD Show | Photos © Agencia Fotosite

Being the first runway shows during this season’s edition of Minas Trend, Fatima Scofield set the bar high for the following designers.

Minas Trend S/S 19 | FATIMA SCOFIELD Show | Photos © Agencia Fotosite

The collection includes a wide range of dresses that all have a slight touch of light summer wear from the 1980’s, including belted, almost see through dresses, two-piece suits with a chic pyjama flair, almost all made from light fabrics such as chiffon and silk. Ruffles and different volants create interesting pieces; the color pallette ranged from an intense orange to light skin tones, rose, yellow and turquoise. The silhouettes created by the pieces were mainly feminine X silhouettes; enforcing the statement that became visible during the collection: Celebrate femininity.

What really stood out during the label’s presentation was the choice of music: The models in the incredibly feminine, soft dresses and skirts walked the runway to ‘Because The Night’ by the Patti Smith Group, creating an atmosphere of opposites becoming one. The core message of this particular mixture could be the free choice of women to dress however feminine the please, while still being a feminist, as our modern society seems to undermine women who support this slogan. While the feminist movement trend has promoted natural women who don’t confirm to society gender roles anymore, Fatima Scofield sends a message that women can do both – stand up for themselves and make the choices they please, while remaining feminine and dressing in clothes that remind of a warm summer in the 1980’s.

MARK ANKERSTEIN

Mark Ankerstein | Photo © Opportunity International

Many people are looking for the sense in their lives. Mark Ankerstein decided to add more value to what he was doing by changing his profession and starting over in an NGO. As CEO of Opportunity International Deutschland he manages an NGO that helps to build a stable environment for motivated but less well-off people in developing countries by creating jobs and an income. Read about Mark’s motivation and journey and the work of Opportunity International Deutschlandin the interview by Tom from SUPERIOR Magazine.

Photo © Opportunity International

Mark, you have a very successful career in advertising business. Now you are CEO of the NGO Opportunity International Deutschland. What’s the reason for this profession-change?

I had a wonderful time working in the advertising industry, but in my mid-forties I was looking for a – some would say “sense” – I would call it “added value” in my life. I thought it must be possible to have a career and doing “something good”. This desired combination was the incentive for looking for a profession-change and I stared my journey. That journey brought me to an NGO, working as the head of marketing-communication and from there to being the CEO of an NGO. Up to now, it was a fantastic journey and I do not regret the step into the charity-business, because it really adds value to me.

Was it a more spontaneous decision or did you have something like that in mind for a longer time?

Changing the job was spontaneous – but the decision respective the “inner journey” started some years before that. Maybe most concrete when I worked in an agency for one of my clients: an NGO. The people working in this NGO had such a great spirit and conviction but at the same time acted very professional and worked hard. That combination really impressed me even more, knowing that they did not even get payed a high salary – so something beyond money was valuable for them.

Emprendedora Highschool Nicaragua | Photo © Opportunity International

What is Opportunity International Deutschland? What are their aims?

Long story short: Opportunity International Deutschlandhelps to create jobs and income for poor but motivated people in developing countries. For that, we use the method of “social micro finance” in combination with support via trainings and consulting. Our aim always is that the people in developing countries (we call them “clients” not “beneficiaries”) can make their own living by working and having an income – so they become independent from aid. We work very closely with partner-organisations in the respective countries, develop projects together and finance the conduction of projects through donations we collect here in Germany.

What is your role in Opportunity International Deutschland exactly?

By being the CEO of a small NGO, I am involved in almost everything – of course in collaboration with my colleagues. Starting with the management of our office and the staff, developing the overall strategy and participating in the program-strategy, representing the organisation at events and holding speeches, once in a while I need to travel to the project-countries and last but not least I´m working as a fundraiser.

How helpful is your previous career for your new work?

In the advertising business you learn how to be well organised, you have to hold presentations quite often and you need to have the ability to “tell a story short and interesting” – this all was a great training for my work in the charity business. And of course, an NGO needs to advertise and communicate as well, here the job in an NGO does not differentiate from the job in an agency.

You started some months ago. What’s the biggest difference between your advertising job and your new work?

In the agency I was a specialist, as the CEO of an NGO I’m more of a generalist. But the biggest difference is not “what I’m doing” it is more “why I’m doing it”.

As mentioned, I travel 2-3 times a year to our projects in developing countries as e.g. Ghana or Uganda. Looking into the eyes of our clients and seeing the hope for a better future we give them, seeing the dignity that they get back because they have a job and are independent from aid, can send their children to school etc. – that gives me energy for weeks and months and that’s why I´m doing this job.

Can you describe one typical project of Opportunity International Deutschland?

The YAP-Project – Young Apprenticeship Program – in Ghana. Here we offer young people in Ghana, age 16 – 24, who do not have a decent education, not have a job, income or perspective to join in on a skilled training to learn how to become a mechanic, tailor, cook etc. The training takes over three years and we cover the costs and provide the young people with health insurance, most of them have never had one before. This program is officially acknowledged by the government of Ghana and at the end of the training the young people have an exam and receive an official certification. Then we offer them a micro-credit with no interest rate, so they can start their own small business.

In the light of the refugee-situation we have right now here in Europe, for us this is a program that gives young people in Africa a perspective in their home country and can help to prevent that this people flee from poverty and no perspective by going on an often deadly journey to Europe

If somebody likes to support Opportunity International Deutschland. How is that possible?

To be straight, the best way to support our work is a donation. We need financial resources to conduct our projects. Our entire work is financed via donations.

You work a lot, but what do you do in your spare time?

I try to spend as much time as possible with my wife and my little daughter. If time is left, I like to do sports and meet with my old buddies – once in a while I also do visit cultural events as concerts and exhibitions.
But to be honest, sometimes I also like to simply do nothing.

You live and work in Cologne. Is Cologne your preferred city in Germany?

I was born in Cologne and do see it as my home-base. My family and friends live here. I spend some years in other cities like Frankfurt, Düsseldorf and Berlin – I liked to live in other cities but I always came home after a while – and my home is Cologne.

Which places, stores, restaurants, bars or anything else would you recommend if friends would visit Cologne for the first time?

I like Café Franck. This café has a very nice and interesting interior mixture of old- and modern-fashion and the cakes are fantastic. One of my preferred restaurants is the Lütticher–great food and very friendly people. Still the place to be is the Café Schmitz– hip and cool for some years now.

Thank you for the interview!

ANTONIA GOY Show

DBMS S/S 2018 | ANTONIA GOY Show | Photos © GETTY IMAGES for DER BERLINER MODE SALON

As part of Der Berliner Mode Salon, curated by German Vogue editor in chief Christiane Arp, the fashion label Antonia Goy presented it’s spring/summer 2018 collection called “Born Free”.

Fashion designer Antonia Goy and architect Björn Kubeja, the two creative heads behind the label, continued with the ideas of their winter collection “Alien Nation”, which was already inspired by childlike curiosity, open-mindedness and the unconcerned interest in all stranger things.

DBMS S/S 2018 | ANTONIA GOY Show | Photos © GETTY IMAGES for DER BERLINER MODE SALON

Right at the beginning, bright colors like orange and signal red as details like belts, ribbons or shoes popped up collectively with stripes and powerful plaid checks and caught the audience’s attention.

It went on with flowing long dresses, dresses with asymmetric front parts, feminine high waist trousers, wrapped pants and skirts, oversized blouses and bold coats with sharp silhouettes. By the use of asymmetries, cut outs and transparencies the designer duo build architectural volumes and recreated the proportions of classic patterns. Light cotton, textured batiste, flowing silk crepe and viscose were used as materials.

To that color bang at the beginning, followed black, white, blue and green as main colors. After a short break, the models used to pose for the photographers, a wild mix of prints, polka dots and even more stripes followed as well as a change of the shows mood. Instead of simply walking along the catwalk, the models suddenly began to take selfies with individual viewers in the audience, took seats between the guests and started dancing on the catwalk. So much fun in the early morning is rare at the fashion week, but Antonia Goy has not only proven a sense for great fashion, but also a feeling of joy. And this is one of the most important – but unfortunately, too often forgotten – things in fashion: it should be fun!

HIEN LE Show

MBFWB S/S 2018 | HIEN LE Show | Photos © Mercedes-Benz Fashion

Fashion designer Hien Le who is well known for his unisex-pattern and the easy going implementation of material, presented his spring/summer 2018 collection at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin fashion designer and dedicated his new designs to the poetry of dancing.

MBFWB S/S 2018 | HIEN LE Show | Photos © Mercedes-Benz Fashion

The show started with a few looks in white: cotton shirts were combined with shorts and high waist skirts, flowing skirts and silk blouses in light pink followed. Up to this, a few male looks hit the catwalk and showed high-waist stripe shorts, loose shirts and jackets in beige. In both styles, Hien Le picked up his signature way of layering, for example by wrapping different shirts above each other. A free wrap details and some pleats recall the typical dancer’s style, but by their clean cuts, they are also clearly Hien Le.

The colours were as delicate as the materials: Nude, beige and bright blue shades were supported by a bright safran yellow. The used materials, light cotton and silk, were decorated with handmade buttons from porcelain manufactory SCHOEMIG, who cooperated with the label HIEN LE and supported the new collection.

All the looks were combined with that one shoe, that probably never gets out of fashion: white sneakers. And it was not just the collection that brought us directly to a dance studio, it was also the music selection. The models danced over the runway to relaxed R’n’B sounds from Brandy’s “The Boy Is Mine” and Michael Jackson’s “The Way You Make Me Feel”.

VLADIMIR KARALEEV Show

MBFWB S/S 2018 | VLADIMIR KARALEEV Show | Photos © Mercedes-Benz Fashion

With the presentation of his spring/summer 2018 collection designer Vladimir Karaleev opened the last day at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin. The designer is known very well for his extraordinary talent for material mix, deconstruction of pattern and transformation. Once more he presented simple cuts with asymmetrical layering alienated. The designers focus is still on the overlay of different forms and constructions and Karaleev also remains faithful to his typical styles in unisex look.

MBFWB S/S 2018 | VLADIMIR KARALEEV Show | Photos © Mercedes-Benz Fashion

The collection consists of classic Marlene-trousers, long pullover-dresses, deep slits on skirts and dropped down shoulder parts on tops and blouses. Especially one wrapped underboob top attracted the audience attention.

the designer Vladimir Karaleev also remained faithful to his color scheme: black, white and grey were accompanied by a few shades of blue and some nude tones. Some individual pieces like a box shaped jacket or a mullet skirt in a bright musty yellow build a strong contrast to this.

To break the soft and nude tones, he used different details like attached pockets or thick zippers in deep black and plays with different materials. Airy cotton, linen, silk and chiffon combined with shiny metallic fabrics, created an exciting mix in his outfits.

VANESSA SCHINDLER Show

MBFWB S/S 2018 | VANESSA SCHINDLER Show | Photos © Mercedes-Benz Fashion

As part of the brand cooperation between Mercedes-Benz and German fashion magazine ELLE, Vanessa Schindler presented her spring/summer 2018 collection at Der Berliner Mode Salon.

Just two months ago, the upcoming design talent from Switzerland won the “Grand Prix du Jury Première” at the Hyères Fashion and Photography Festival – of course in the category fashion – and her collection „Urethane Pool, Chapter 2“ proves that she is ready to keep up with designers like Dorothee Schuhmacher or Malaikaraiss. Her designs are unique, extravagant and exhilarating.

MBFWB S/S 2018 | VANESSA SCHINDLER Show | Photos © Mercedes-Benz Fashion

The idea behind her collection was to work with urethane as main material. A liquid polymer, which transforms itself after a long time of drying into a transparent, rubber-like substance.

Cropped turtleneck-pullovers made of velvet, a giant knit dress and broad-cut sleeves met floor length tulle dresses, gentle blouses and flowing skirts. The used urethane was used as details on trousers, as cut outs and in the form of seashells on a gown.

The collection included a strong contrast between heavy and light materials, close-fitting and wide silhouettes as well as the use of bright and dark colors. With colors like ivory, light purple, brown, black and gray she burst the designer typical summer color scheme, which is often based on bright and shiny colors.

The presentation attracted celebrities like Susan Sarandon, Bryn Mooser, Franziska Knuppe, Bettina Cramer, William Fan, Anna October, Steven Tai and Florian Langenscheidt, who all visited her show to get a glance on her designs, characterized by the use of puff thin fabrics, decorated with transparent shining ornaments and the interaction of contrasts and volumes.

STEINROHNER Show

MBFWB S/S 2018 | STEINROHNER Show | Photos © Mercedes-Benz Fashion

The Berlin based and award winning fashion label Steinrohner presented their spring/summer 2018 collection on the third day of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin and proved that nature is still their greatest source of inspiration.

MBFWB S/S 2018 | STEINROHNER Show | Photos © Mercedes-Benz Fashion

For their Autumn/Winter 2017 collection „Symbiosis“, Inna Stein and Caroline Rohner turned the structure of lichens into their idea of fashion – however the new collection is visibly inspired by the colours and the floral playfulness of the Tiger Lily. „Edition Flora“ is all about the fragile but powerful expression of flowers and the feeling of a beautiful spring- or summer day, on which bees are flying from flower to flower, collecting pollen.

The models crossed the catwalk in knee-length dresses, raincoat-like jackets and easygoing shorts. Historic lithographs of flowers transformed into floral prints, were found on transparent tops, short skirts, flared trousers and on a long-sleeved jumpsuit. STEINROHNER wraps the female silhouette in crêpes de chine, linen, silk, organza, cotton and plastic transparency.

Besides the floral styles, the collection offers a variety of plain pieces in bright yellow, gently creme, a few light blue shades but also black, white and silver. Made from silver threaded jersey, pieces like an overall or a wrapped dress fit perfectly to the mainly metallic shoes, which were combined to bright yellow and creme colored stockings.

Highlight was the show-closing dress: An airy, fairy and all-out transparent dream dress in white, decorated with a lot of tiny blossom like fabric pieces, which perfectly provided the tender feeling of „bee-ing“ on a field full of flowers.