Over the last few seasons the Brazilian fashion designer Isabela Capeto has concentrated on expanding her eponymous design house into a globally recognized brand, at the same time that she has been designing and producing innovative collections. Capeto graduated from the esteemed Academia di Moda na Italia in Florence in 1993 and has since worked for a number of Brazilian fashion houses in her native Rio de Janeiro, including the highly coveted (by both the domestic and international fashion cognoscenti) swimwear designers Maria Bonita and Lenny Niemeyer. She launched her own label in 2003 and opened her bright and airy atelier in the leafy Jardim Botanico district of Rio. In 2004 Capeto made her debut at Fashion Rio and in 2005 at Sao Paulo Fashion Week, the largest fashion event in Latin America and the fifth largest in the world following London, Paris, New York and Milan. Her clothes can be purchased in over twenty countries throughout the world, in well-known department stores such as Barneys and Jeffrey’s in the USA, Browns in the UK, Colette and Le Bon Marché in France, Barneys in Japan, and Harvey Nichols in the United Arab Emirates.
Capeto has described her target customer as a modern international woman who wants to exist in harmony with her natural surroundings, free of the stresses of living in a metropolis. Her production processes feed into this domestic ethos: they are labour intensive, using skilled seamstresses and natural fibres to create garments that exude delicacy and evoke simple and subtle sensibilities. Capeto’s design aesthetic is inspired by museums and galleries and each of her romantic, feminine pieces can be interpreted as a work of art in its own right: they are handmade, embroidered, dyed, appliquéd and heavily adorned with lace, sequins, bows, tulle and other elements of traditional dressmaking. She has explained her design process: ‘choosing a theme is the first thing I like to do. After that, I always organize a trip to see, learn and experience the theme as much as I can. I also read and learn from books, artists, pictures, memories of places, food I have tasted, and people I have met’. This mix-and-match style characterizes much of her work, in which she throws together various sources with irreverent abandon, embodying a love of fabric and the blending of numerous geographical and historical influences from Brazil and Europe. Her work references the vibrant colours and lush exuberance traditionally associated with Brazil whilst seeking affiliation with international fashion trends and tastes, in terms of silhouette and form, to articulate the contradictions between nationalism and internationalism, the local and universal, extendable to both the domestic and global consumers that Capeto is increasingly seducing with her sensual, tactile designs.