Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Dener - The First Brazilian Couturier

In 1960's Brazil, fashion designers, or costureiros as we called them, were still hidden from sight inside their ateliers sewing pretty dresses to the society ladies. Dener Pamplona was the pioneer couturier who first created a real identity for Brazilian fashion, equaling it to the high levels of the European couture designers of the time. He changed it all with his big persona, a character he created himself, full of affectations and mannerisms big enough to match his talent. He was a high society staple, was a judge on a top rated TV talent show and a self-promoting faux aristocrat that enchanted Brazil with his sharp tongue and quick wit.
This month Editora Cosac Naif is reprinting Dener's 1972 autobiography "Dener-O Luxo", then at 36 years of age. It includes several images of the designer throughout his career, many hilarious and sharp quotes about rivals and politicians of the time, plus his how-to-live-life advices and accounts of his eccentricities and clients. This intimate memoir is also peppered with French words and expressions, very chic at the time, and gives an idea of his over the top grandesse and talent for fiction, as most passages cannot be verified. Dener would wake up at 2 PM, go to work from 4-8, then call his butler Pierre (nee Pedro) at home to shut all drapes and light up candles and lamps before his return. Dener a-b-h-o-r-r-e-d over head lighting. He once threw one of his fabulous parties and wanted exotic birds for the decor. In lack of those he had white doves covered in oil paint and adorned with extra plumes e sparkles. All died but one. He was ambiguous about his sexuality and even married a 16 year-old society girl in 1965 and fathered two kids. When asked about being gay he would answer vaguely "I like pretty people".
He lived large, spent large and drank large. He died in 1978, at age 42, of cirrhosis of the liver.
A true Brazilian diva.

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