Before the Runway
20 years ago the first brazilian Fashion Week was organized in São Paulo.
20 minutes is the average duration of a show.
16 years is the minimum age for modeling during the fashion week.
1500 are the average photos taken by a photographer per single show.
10% is the indigenous or black origin model quota set by law for these events to ensure equal opportunities.
There is always a lot of tension in the backstage. The models are absent mannequins, staring at their phones, surrounded by an army of hairdressers and makeup artists. They are skinny; someone says they swallow tissues and cotton balls soaked in fruit juice to trick the body and pretend to have a full stomach. They are very young, they all live in São Paulo but many of them come from the south of Brazil, where the majority of the population are European descendants. Probably their great-grandfathers emigrated from Germany, which explains blond hair, cold eyes and a white complexion. A common dream: becoming like Gisele Bündchen, the Brazilian supermodel of evident German heritage, still one of the most famous models in the world and by far the most highly paid. Perhaps it’s strange that a mitteleuropean beauty has represented for years a Latin country, expecially Brazil, which is based on race-mixing. But the "ethnic ingredients" are still kept in well-separated areas. It was only in 2009, with the introduction of the compulsory quota of models of indigenous or black origin, that today brazilian top events are not only populated by pale models. Once hairstyle and makeup is completed, they are ready to wear their clothes. Tension begin to rise and finally the mannequins come to life. Now they are lined up in the dark, waiting to get out. The row has a kind of a mystic atmosphere, white faces appear and disappear in the darkness, illuminated by a flashlight for the finishing touches. Some of them makes joke to each other to lighten the mood, some others makes poses in front of the flash, someone else is simply concentrated waiting for the arrival of her turn. Waiting to be immortalized, admired, judged. The walk will be confident, the intense gaze directed at the wall of photographers. Maybe it’s not enough, it’s not enough to avoid mistakes and be just beautiful. On that stage you need to give a little bit extra. In that fast but endless walk you risk everything, the chance to be noticed by someone important and become the new flagship model of the campaign of a big brand, or continue modeling, dreaming of Paris, Milan, London, New York, the top fashion cities in the world. On that stage the walk must be fluid, but the stakes are high; you win and you lose everything, because it’s too easy to be replaced by a new, fresh face, a more distinctive or a younger one. Younger than 16 years old.