First Brazilian indigenous fashion show ‘a form of resistance’

The models proudly don majestic feathered headpieces and sing an ode to the rain while a makeup artist draws geometric patterns on their faces, arms and thighs in preparation for Brazil’s first-ever indigenous fashion show.

“It’s a feeling of happiness and pride,” 19-year-old model Moan Munduruku told AFP ahead of her runway appearance in Manaus, in the Brazilian Amazon.

“We are very interested in showing our talent in sewing and crafts. To show the world that tribal peoples can also be successful in fashion,” he said.

Moan is one of 37 models – women and men – representing 15 indigenous groups of Brazil participating in the month-long intercultural exhibition of indigenous fashion in the largest city of the Brazilian Amazon.

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

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

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

The designers use natural elements in their creations, including the spear-like teeth of the peccary – an Amazon wild boar – the red guarana fruit, acai seeds and coconut shells.

The same geometric patterns worn by the models are repeated in the fabrics that cover them.

“My outfit evokes the Ticuna girl’s (coming-of-age) ritual,” said Kimpuramana, a 17-year-old model, who wears a white dress embellished with black diagonal stripes.

On the runway, a presenter will announce each model’s ethnicity and explain the symbolism behind the clothes and accessories they wear.

Saturday’s show took place at the Rio Negro Palace, an early 20th-century building that now serves as a cultural center.

“I feel privileged to be able to take part in such an event in this place. We are generally banned from such websites. Today I can see my people telling their story through fashion,” said participant Bianca Mura, 24.

As the models walked down the runway to applause, thousands of indigenous Brazilians gathered in the capital, Brasilia, some 3,500 kilometers away, for an annual mass camping event called Terra Livre (Free Land).

The gathering is both a rally for indigenous people’s rights and a protest against the government of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, which is in favor of opening up indigenous reserves – already badly hit by deforestation – to mining and farming companies. (AFP)

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