SAO PAULO — The Brazilian designers showcased at the recent São Paulo Fashion Week offered buyers fresh fashion alternatives to global trends.

This twice-annual event, whose latest edition in June drew a near-record 70,000 visitors, featured the 2005 summer collections of 48 designers.

Although the Brazilian economy, flat for the last three years, only began to rekindle recently, many designers opted not to play it safe. While a few offered commercial fare, more took the creative route and some went in daring new directions, buyers and other visitors said.

“This SPFW offered huge variety, from the very commercial to the very creative and noncommercial, with most designers striking a nice balance between the two,” said Peter Cullen, a merchandising director of EuroMax, a Canadian importer and distributor of five Brazilian designers, among them Iodice, Alphorria and Vide Bula.

Cullen plans to double imports to 100,000 pieces annually from Brazil by next year. “This makes the SPFW perhaps the most forward-looking fashion week in the world right now,’’ he said. “And, as the SPFW is the world’s first fashion week to show summer 2005 collections, it’s in perfect calendar position to trailblaze trends.”

Brazilian fashion consultant Gloria Kalil agreed. “Many Brazilian designers decided, despite an unfavorable economy, not to bow to commercial tastes and instead infused their collections with creativity,” she said.

Among the top Brazilians were Alexandre Herchcovitch, Fause Haten, Reinaldo Lourenço, Lino Villaventura and Forum, the signature line of designer Tufi Duek.

Other ready-to-wear labels included Patachou, Jum Nakao, Zoomp, Zapping, André Lima, Uma, Lorenzo Merlino, Gloria Coelho, Ellus, Triton, Iodice, Osklen, Isabela Capeto, Vide Bula, Alphorria and Spain’s Custo Barcelona, as well as eight beachwear makers headed by Rosa Chá, Brazil’s biggest beach brand.

Jum Nakao made perhaps the loftiest creative stretch. His show featured paper doll- and Victorian era-inspired white paper dresses, bodices, corsets and hoop petticoats. Models in black leotards and black plastic wigs ended the show by simultaneously ripping up their outfits on the runway.

“Nakao, who normally makes experimental, delicate, feminine apparel, this time around made a fashion statement instead of showing a fashion collection,” Kalil said. “He was saying that fashion is made of dreams as well as clothes, and, in the end, is here today and gone tomorrow.” Perhaps, but never at retail.

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