Alexandre Herchcovitch: He loves roller coasters

by Cristina Ramalho

If it were up to fashion designer Alexandre Herchcovitch, the world would be Disney-like: everything bright and shiny, working impeccably, with thrills. You might be scared to death on the ride, but you’re soon laughing and telling your friends about it. “I’m fascinated by Disney’s organization. It’s a perfect world, with no risks”.  But Herchcovitch took a big risk when, practically unknown, he put someone on the fashion runway, completely outside of current standards, wearing baggy pants, topped by a ballet skirt – unafraid of jeers or vulgarities.

Herchcovitch did that, and much more, hitting the streets all decked out and made up, carrying a handbag and wearing high heels, just for the fun of being different. Before he was 30, he published a big autobiography, with humorous pictures of his friends with whom he starred in a short film as hilarious super-heroes. Maybe you don’t know who he is. Alexandre Herchcovitch is, currently, the Brazilian shining light among that constellation of creators who put on the runway what the rich and beautiful (with deep pockets) will be wearing next season. From a classy fashion designer who invented what was impractical for anyone into conventional fashions, Herchcovitch has become an example (inside and outside ofBrazil) of the best in quality, finish work, and fine-tuned business instincts.

His unprejudiced and highly refined view of clothing marks the market leaders who are his clients: Olympikus (for whom he created a sports shoe andBrazil’s Olympic uniforms), Lupo (traditional hosiery company), Cori (synonymous with the classical woman), and Triumph (lingerie). His world throbs like a busy amusement park. Wherever he puts his label, the product sells. He has two stores inSão Paulo, one inPorto Alegre, and another in Brasília, and more will soon open inCuritibaandRecife. He has showrooms inNew YorkandParis, and rakes in the money inJapan, where seven stores sell his clothing to fashion-minded young people. Worldwide, 20 stores sell his label, including jewelry (CR Brüner) and jeanswear (JR Meneguzzo).

Like all good perfectionists, he works like crazy on his ideas – and it’s obvious his “dream box” is very creative. “I don’t accept poor work,” he says. He even wrote a series of procedural manuals, with precise job descriptions for each employee. “I have 40 employees and I want them to master their jobs,” he explains.  The result is the excellence which has always been his hallmark. His clothing doesn’t fray – boosting his creativity and getting big coverage by the demanding international press. At São Paulo Fashion Week, he masterfully played with the techniques. His clothing had no finish work, and was so well made that no one noticed what fashion critics call “deconstructivisim”.

That standard of quality began in his dining room, which was his first studio, financed by his Jewish parents who saw genius in their son’s craziness. His father paid for the collection made of fabrics fromNew York. His mother,Regina, was his first model; his second was drag queen Marcia Pantera, for whom Herchcovitch made an S&M outfit forSão Paulo’s night life. The label had his name between two skulls. This thing of mixing daring with skulls and drag queens resulted in an unkind image of him in his first interviews, becoming synonymous with weird. Nonsense. Herchcovitch can be very nice, when he wants to be. He still has almost all of his friends from ten years ago, he’s polite, treats everyone very well, and is a family man – his youngest brother works for him.

He has no qualms about saying what he thinks. His clothing preaches freedom of expression. He confesses he’s a lazy reader, thinks French movies are boring, and intellectual things make him sleepy. His only passion is buying art. His favorite movie is Titanic, for the same reasons that he loves the world of Disney. “The film is perfect; it amazingly doesn’t look like fantasy.” Although he avoids books, he first worked as a photographer of famous writers. At 16, he did a series of 20 black-and-white portraits of Brazilian authors.

Few people know this side of him, or would have imagined him asking to create the Olympic uniforms, because he’s a fan of artistic gymnastics. Only a very small group of intimates knows he eclectically collects handbags, skulls, skeletons, high-heeled shoes, and toy bears. Herchcovitch also likes to ride roller coasters and joined the international Roller Coaster Club. His favorite is inEngland, four hours fromLondon. “It’s terrifying and has a 90º drop into the ground.” To his relief, the peril ends as soon as he gets off the ride. Isn’t that how life should be?


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