From Rio with love – We meet Lenny in her spacious atelier in Botafago, one of Rio’s beachfront bairros. Surrounded by racks of clothing, print samples and piles of books, she welcomes us as though we have known each other for years. She immediately starts telling us about her new collection – a retrospective of 20 years of Lenny – and asks for our input.

Lenny Niemeyer - CoolBrands Around the World in 80 Brands
Lenny Niemeyer – CoolBrands Around the World in 80 Brands

Carioca at heart

An icon of the Brazilian fashion scene, Lenny Niemeyer started designing swimwear in the 1980s when she moved from São Paulo to Rio. It all started when she was looking for bikinis – for herself and for friends back in São Paulo – and was disappointed by the choice. “So I started designing them myself,” she says with a smile. “I started looking for different fabrics and prints and soon enough not only my friends were buying my designs, but also fashion stores.”

But it was when she opened her own shop in Ipanema that she really got a feel for what women were looking for and how she could help women feel confident and beautiful in swimwear that suited their bodies. This continues to be her goal.

“My main aim is to help women feel perfect,” she says. She explains that – unlike in São Paulo where you will probably go out to dinner or a play – in Rio you’re more likely to end up at the beach. “On the beach, you can’t hide and so you need the very best tools to present yourself. My beachwear is there to help you do that.”

Using natural materials like cotton and different types of silk, she designs Brazilian bikinis, elaborate bathing suits and a wide Logo CoolBrands Womenrange of after-beach wear and wraps – all with the aim of making every woman feel at ease in Rio’s glamorous beach scene.

“So where do you get your inspiration?” I ask as we scan the colourful designs crowded on the clothing racks around us. “From around the world,” Lenny says with a sweeping gesture. “I travel to Asia and Africa to find new themes and designs and I bring them to Brazil.”

Bringing together materials and designs from different cultures, she weaves them together with the ‘Brazilian soul’ to create signature designs. Yet, while she draws her inspiration from around the world, Lenny and her brand are inextricably linked to Rio. Even though she was born in São Paulo, she has become a Carioca at heart and, as a Brazilian celebrity, is strongly associated with the laidback Rio lifestyle and its famous parties.

Right now she is working on a new collection inspired by 20 years of Lenny, revisiting signature designs and giving them a fresh twist. “If you really want to understand how I work and how I translate inspiration into pieces of swimwear, you should join me in making my new collection.”

Awesome! We’re super excited: we get to take part in designing Lenny’s retrospective collection and will see the process unfold from today until the after-party at Fashion Rio in three months time.

© 2012 CoolBrands – Around the World in 80 Brands


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