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Fernanda Yamamoto

Words by Lily McFly

Visuals by Bruno Candiotto

Behind every collection is a story of Fernanda’s new discoveries. The latest one, for her Winter’16 collection, is about Fernanda’s journey to Cariri.

Fashion designer Fernanda Yamamoto is one of the most promising creators of Brazil. Her collections are sold worldwide. In 2014, the international fashion website Farfetch chose Fernanda and other 14 designers to represent Brazil, seeing a potential appeal to a global audience in her sophisticated, experimental style. In her hometown of São Paulo, locals love Yamamoto for her minimalist and stand-out designs, influenced by culture of her adopted land Brazil and her Japanese ancestry.

Before starting her own label, Fernanda has worked with two of the most celebrated Brazilian designers, Alexandre Herchcovitch and Jum Nakao. In 2008, Fernanda launched her eponymous fashion brand and quickly began stacking up awards and recognition for her works. The designer is no stranger to innovative designs. In her works, traditional Brazilian motifs get new interpretations for the future. Fernanda mixes manual knitting with sculptural silhouettes and flowing fabrics, balancing folklore patterns and minimalist design.

How has living between two different cultures shaped your character? – People always get surprised when I say that I am Brazilian. They also get surprised when I say that I don´t speak Japanese. But one of the most outstanding experiences in my life has been my first trip to Japan. I recognized a lot of myself in that culture. But, at the same time, I felt like I was not Japanese because I couldn’t understand a word and couldn’t communicate. However, having Japanese roots has always been one of the most important influences in my life. It’s really interesting how easy it is to recognize the Japanese accuracy in my work mixed with a certain Brazilian flow and sensuality.

When did you realize that you wanted to create, to become a fashion designer? – It was a process that took some time. At the beginning, I wasn’t sure if it was the right thing to do, but my intuition said that I should try. I had a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration before pursuing fashion education. At some point I decided to go deep in the studies of fashion, and I went to New York to take the AAS degree in Fashion Studies at Parsons The New School for Design. I think, that was the moment when I realized that there was no way back. When I returned to Brazil, I started to work with other designers and created my own collection.

How do you strike a balance between the ‘traditional’ and ‘fashionable’ in your designs?  – In my last collection, it became clear to me that we could always create something new by looking at our past and history. That´s the way I work: understanding traditional and historical values and reinterpreting it to nowadays with a very personal view.

Do you sacrifice your present moment for the success and happiness in the future? – I believe that present moment is as important as the future, and as important as the past. We can’t reinvent the wheel, but we can bring a new vision to the present (which is in essence unique by itself).


But behind every collection is a story of Fernanda’s new discoveries. The latest one, for her Winter’16 collection, is about Fernanda’s journey to Cariri. It’s a region in the Paraiba state in the Northeast of Brazil with lots of small towns and the harsh dry lands. But the cracked patterns and a rich natural palette of vivid tones and deep shades are not the only thing that had drawn her to that place.  Fernanda went there to learn more about the ‘Renaissance lace’. It took a year of hard work to create that collection But the result was more than just a fashion collection. Her original interpretation of a centuries-old tradition has become a link connecting the past and the future.


Please tell us a bit more about your unique experience in Cariri  – It was an outstanding experience. Firstly, discovering another Brazil, the one I had no idea about before my trip, was very exciting. Cariri is the driest region of Brazil. I went there to learn more about the ‘Renaissance lace’, which was brought by the Portuguese and became a tradition in that region. I was also thrilled to meet the women ‘behind the lace’; we went to the artisans’ house to learn how the lace was made. It was a work that took more than a year.

Photographs from Cariri have been made by Bruno Candiotto for his Nos.so project, which explores Brazilian culture. You can discover more about Nos.so by visiting his website:  www.brunocandiotto.com