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FAVELA CHIC : IN THE STEPS OF GISELE BUNDCHEN (51 photos) Send this reportage Send this reportage
Rio de Janeiro: "Sometimes when I see people walking along the Rocinha's streets, to me it seems to be in a fashion parade", asserts Zé Luiz da Conceiçăo Silva, the founder of "Dream Model school" for model, by which 40 young people from Rio de Janeiro learn not fashion only , but also how to escape from the misery of the shantytown.
© G. Bizzarri./
Categories: Woman Fashion, Glamour, Woman Interest
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Never fashion has been so close to common people: "The dreams are not fantasies, because they could be true", Silva declares. Dream Model, although the title's name, is real: "Some of my students - says the fashionable expert born in the largest shantytown of South America - have followed their careers in Europe or United States, as Priscila Le Gentil that posed for some editions of Vogue magazine".

The children are accompanied by hand from their young mothers, they are the first to reach, every saturdays morning, the school. The course is held in the communal school of the quarter, a large building of reinforced concrete at the bottom of the "morro" (n.d.r. mount, synonym of shantytown). There isn't normal activities in the school on saturday, but the fashion course is one of the most popular alternative activities by youth people of the quarter. The mothers greet and entrust to Zé their own daughters like fathers, which carry their little Ronaldo to play soccer: Brazil export around the world football players and models, a millionaire hopeless of many parents which hope to have a celebrity in their family. "We are guess of the school because we do not have our own center, - Zé Luiz explains - but my dream is to open a fashion center in the Rocinha. It would be fantastic if one day we might have a top model born in the quarter. That's why I am looking out a supporter for my community fashion project ". The name was invented by him and it is real right. Making community fashion in a shanty town - according to the Brazilian - is something very peculiar: "The life is hard when everything is against you. We must change and transform the adversities to our favour. The fashion is a way to teach to young people to retake the future and to become thinking that exists alternative ways to live. It is a great result if I can avoid to them to enter in the crime; and to me, this, it means fashion also", Zé explains.

The lessons begin like a ritual, the fashion students hold one another by hands; they are concentrated in order to feel an energy that exists in them. After the concentration, an electronic music coming out from a gigantic portable stereo starts the school activities. They are lessons of pose make up, fashion parade, portamento and all those techniques necessary in order to become a model. Rafaela Lima Gabriel Ferreira is 19 years old and she is one of the course's veteran. Ferreira works as a clerk in an kindergarten located in one of the many narrow streets of "Carioca's casba (n.d.r. simonimum of Rio de Janeiro). She dreams of being a models, but she wants to go to the university too. She doesn't know which subjects yet, but she believes to follow an art course, fashion designer exactly. Rafaela loves to design models dresses and she used to doing it in her room with television set always on. Rafaela lives with her parents in a typical house on top of the "morro", just bordering the Atlantic forest: "Here it is beautiful. Every day I see monkeys, tucano, parrots, but also, snakes ", tell the aspirant model. The daily life of the beautiful girl with indian features is always carried out in the fantastic world of the Rocinha shantytown: "I love this quarter and I do not want to leave it. People say here it is a slum only, but it is a real quarter ", asserts proud. Ferreira is shy, but she loves to parade. She did it many times and she is motivated to continue: "I am very nervous before parading, but once started it is fantastic. When I parade among all those people that observes me, I feel myself another person", says. Ricardo Mesquita Matias has the same opinion, a young boy of 17 years old, one of the male aspirants models. He is beautiful and he does not care if someone jokes with him during the lessons realized outdoor in the quarter. Matias also lives with his parents. He used to study acting too, but he is finishing his high school before going to the university. He probably will chose an advertising course. "Ricardo is my best model. He has already participated to many fashion parades, one in the Copacabana Palace hotel ", says Zé Luiz. Matias is much loved by the girls' quarter, but she has a girl friend. He is used to playing guitar on top of his where plays and observes the amazing sight of Rocinha.

Zč Luiz (35 years old) is a afro-Brazilian descendent and he is umbandista (Brazilian syncretism religious with Africans, Indians and Christians cultural influences). To him, all in his life is connected and joined. She is an idealist and everybody know him in the quarter; some of them says he should be engaged in politic, but he doesn't care of them. He has been living between needles and spins since was child: his mother was a taylor and made dressed for the high society in Rio de Janeiro. Zé has followed fashion course and used to work in important boutique of the "Cidade Maravilhosa", but: "I have learned observing the life. - and he adds - I constantly study and I keep myself updated, but intuition is my strongest strength". Luiz was about to study in Milan, but his mother died some days before his departure for Italy, but he has not left to do it: "I have still this dream and one day I will realize it". Silva believes in destiny, but, like the Argentinean writer Luis Borges, he believes that men have to achieve it. In 1990 he organized the first fashion parade in the Rocinha during a gala event never hold in a shantytown: "The event in itself was a disaster, but the fashion was am amazing success" asserts Luiz. Nobody thought to carry out a fashion parade in such place, with luscious dresses and beautiful girls. An year later, stimulated from the previous happening, Zé instituted the first fashion course for models in a slum. Soon, he noticed that the course ought have another aspect, others implications, the one to increase the self confidence of the youth people, in this way they could understand they were not citizens series B: "Some people think - says Silva - when they see the girls of the course, they have not to do with models, but this is the most important aspect of the community Fashion. I work with their young Ego. Even they will not become models, their efforts is still very important, because they have exceeded their complex of inferiority to be born in a slum". Zé doesn't teach fashion only: "There are many parents that thank me, because their sons are much more self confident and less closed in themselves after following the course", says Luiz. But Luiz teaches Ego is an illusion as well and they must be realistic in their lifes: "I explain them, a model is a vendor only; a person have to show off dresses to people interested to buy them", asserts. The course's girls are not blond, as the stereotype Giselle Bunchen, but they are beautiful and exotic. Their simplicity amalgam with the fashion techniques learned during the course. They assume in the daily life an interesting position. They learn expression, pose and other know how information that use immediately: "Some of the girls did not turn into model, but they succeeded to have a job like stewardess, secretary, any job of representation, thanks to the techniques learned during the course", explains happy Zé Luiz.