The Map of Affection, by Luiza Mello
The invitation to our runway show for the Santa Teresa collection in 2022’s SPFW was a map of affectionate places and people from the Santa Teresa district in Rio de Janeiro. Made by hand with nankeen, printed in silk and manually finished, the back features a text by Luiza Mello, our invited curator, who transports us to a stroll through the slopes and old houses of Santa Teresa. READ MORE
The Santa Teresa neighborhood is located in Rio de Janeiro’s central region, on top of a hill. As one ascends its slopes, the temperature drops, time seems to move slower and we are faced with a different perspective of the city. From above, we observe its urban and architectural occupations, its topography with winding mountains and exuberant vegetation. On another scale, walking through the cobblestone streets, we see historical constructions from the 19th century, big houses, smaller scale buildings, squares and parks, the vast majority of them surrounded by tropical rainforest trees.
The starting point for the creation of the Handred x Santa Teresa collection was the choice of using the neighborhood’s scenery to celebrate ten years of the brand: in addition to being a place that, in a unique way, gathers reference concepts and characteristics for Handred, such as history, architecture, nostalgia, nature and city, Santa Teresa is also the stage of great celebrations.
In the early 17th century, the neighborhood already hosted mass religious parties around the Nossa Senhora do Desterro Chapel, which attracted devotees, palmers and pilgrims. In the 18th century, the Santa Teresa Nunnery was erected, which gave the district its name. From the beginning, Santa Teresa has been home to a heterogeneous population, including quilombolas, devotees, and characters who marked the history and culture of the city. It became, as such, a hub of intellectuals, writers, musicians and artists since the mid-19th century, a trait preserved until current times. In the ‘90s, the Carmelitas Bloc Party was founded, which paid homage to the sisters from the Santa Teresa Nunnery. Since then, the bloc parties that make their way up and down its slopes have multiplied each year, in Carnival, and its historic big houses host all sorts of celebrations.
In order to learn about the memories and sensations that inspired the collection, we walked around the neighborhood. Our guide was the brand’s artistic director, André Namitala, who has frequented the region since his youth. We walked through the slopes and cobblestone streets, visited ateliers, houses, workplaces and talked to the people who live there. The stories and conceptions of the artists and residents of Santa Teresa connected to Handred’s stories, adding layers of meaning to the brand’s collection and path.
Our first stop was the Doyle family residence, a building designed by modernist architect Vital Brazil in 1952, with a stunning view of Christ the Redeemer and which houses an important art collection. Fabiano Doyle, of whom André has been a close friend for a long time, acts independently in the art market. To him, art anticipates change, takes bigger steps than society can take and helps us to understand the world we live in. Luiza Ribeiro, his mother, is a visual artist, an art consultant and a writer. To her, art is life itself and makes us see the world in different ways. And Santa Teresa, where she has lived for 40 years, is an urban island, with traits that cannot be found in any other place in the city. For many years, André frequented the family’s celebrations, which happened in a traditional bar in the vicinity: Bar do Mineiro. Searching for affective memories from this place, we headed to our second stop.
Decorated with works of art, objects, posters, photographs of artists and people who visited there, Bar do Mineiro is one of the neighborhood’s most iconic spots. Its inspiring atmosphere was created by Diógenes Paixão, also known as Mineiro, who likes everything that is beautiful and, at 83 years old, is at the bar every day. He sweeps the sidewalk floor, reads the newspapers and talks to the patrons about the celebrities who have stopped by there, his friendships with artists and travels through the world. Listening to him is like entering a portal that takes us on a journey through the country’s cultural history. His memories bring us closer to personalities from Brazilian culture that we admire, through stories that we can’t find in books and films. Diógenes lives near the bar, in a house filled with art that he bought from artists he coexisted with, especially Volpi. One of the artists who has been frequenting Bar do Mineiro since it opened, in 1992, is painter Arjan. Our next stop is his atelier.
Arjan Martins has lived and worked in Santa Teresa since the 1990s. He arrived at the atelier he is currently in through a recommendation from a friend. He fell in love with the lighting, the ventilation, the width of space, the silence, and, gradually, the place transformed along with his work. He started drawing elements from a human anatomy manual – first on paper and, soon thereafter, on walls. Then, he began studying cartographies that map out colonial memories and deepened his relationship with painting. Throughout our conversation, on a cool October afternoon, we found similarities between the ways Arjan and André experience their ateliers and think about art. For both of them, the atelier is a zone of affection and materializes the artist’s place in the world. Art is also a way of dealing with moods, feelings, anger, rage, desires and wishes. We said goodbye, reflecting on the transformative power of art, and moved on to our fourth stop.
Clara Rio Branco is 27 years old and has lived in Santa Teresa since she was 3. She didn’t go to conventional schools, and was educated in an artistic environment and encouraged from an early age to play instruments, paint, craft objects, play capoeira, ride horses and learn in different ways. She makes embroideries shaped like books or thematic panels, with flowers, animals, beaches, forests and instruments. Through art, she expresses her inner world, the fantasies, desires and dreams that populate her mind. Clara’s embroideries connect to Handred’s interest in manual creation, and with Namitala’s vision that art is a form of expression, a place of possibilities where we can put deeper feelings into practice. Inspired by Clara’s love for music and searching for different sensory stimuli, we headed to a bassist’s studio.
Sandra Nisseli was born in Juazeiro, Bahia, and grew up in Carajás, Pará. She traveled across Brazil looking for places to play her instrument: Belém, São Paulo, Pelotas, Porto Alegre, Florianópolis. When she arrived in Snata Teresa, she recalled São Luís, Maranhão’s Historical Center and old Recife. She played in Downtown Rio and, on her way back, she ascended the slopes on foot with her double bass on her back. She fondly holds on to her memories of people’s reactions: some offered to help; others offered her a ride; and children asked to take pictures. Times have changed, but the region has maintained its cordiality – residents, for example, still chat on the streets. Sandra chose to live there because of the favorable environment for music, the connection between people, the beauty and color of Santa Teresa. To her, art awakens the sensation of freedom. The feelings experienced in the neighborhood by Sandra also appear in our collection, be it through the trait of historical cities present in the cobblestone print or through the colorful landscape that we observe in the orange hues of twilight in the neighborhood, which can be seen in the Alvorada print.
In the research practice that Handred has been carrying out since the Brennand collection, each piece of clothing is inspired by and gathers concepts, affections and memories of local landscapes, characters and heritage, whether material or immaterial.