As a model wearing a rich, dark red dress, the colour of crushed urucum seeds, walked into position at the Osklen show, a film was running on full screen showing the origin of the inspiration: the indigenous Asháninka people, one of the largest tribes in South America, who live in communities from the rivers of Brazil to the watersheds of the Peruvian Andes.
"It's a manifesto about beauty and aesthetics," said Oskar Metsavaht, the Brazilian designer, environmental activist and United Nations Goodwill Ambassador. He explained that the tribe, as direct descendants of the Incas, had a deeply developed sense of beauty in their culture, as well as of symbolism.
The long-held spirit of Osklen, its connection with nature from mountain ranges to the tropics, and its sense of the tribal blended with modern clothing has never seemed more relevant.
For there is a new spirit in fashion in which the fabric and the inspiration seem not a forced mix — but made that way. And it was good to see it on display for New York Fashion Week.
In this Osklen collection, the occasional serpent or panther as a single pattern on a simple dress was a visual statement about the actuality of forest life, and feathers also played a role. The rest of the story was one of plain shapes, skimming the body; when the colours were neutral the texture was striking.
The same indigo blue and urucum red used as a dye by the tribe gave a richness to simple clothes and accessories. The designer also used salmon skin to create clutch bags.
This ability to interpret nature and make it harmonious with fashion is so rare that Metsavaht himself should be seen as a rare — but hopefully not endangered — species.