Brazilian designer Fabiana Milazzo is introducing her blend of handcrafted femininity and responsible entrepreneurship to the U.S. market via her new store in Los Angeles.
Known for her designs that are enhanced by artisanal embroidery, macramé, crochet and beading, she flips the script for what is considered formal and casual. A black gown has a relaxed feel with netlike sleeves and corded rope framing a high slit, whereas a sweatshirt stitched from two different shades of blue sparkles with intricately sewn beads on the front.
“I like to mix elements,” she said through an interpreter, her husband Eduardo Carvalho. “I make the party dresses less formal and enrich the casualwear.”
Readying to unveil her first Stateside sales point on Feb. 22 in a 1,300-square-foot space on Melrose Place as the recession in her country deepens, Milazzo hopes the U.S. grows to become the biggest market for her $5 million company. She is a seasoned designer in Brazil, having opened two stores and presented her collections at São Paulo Fashion Week since starting her namesake business in 2000. From the southeastern city of Uberlândia, Brazil, which serves as her base for design and manufacturing, she also sells to 90 retailers within the country as well as international boutiques, including Bugatti in Dubai, Les Suites in Paris, Cry in Tokyo and Luisaviaroma in Florence.
Her heart lies in Italy, from where her family hails. Holding dual Italian and Brazilian citizenships, she studied fashion design in Florence and frequently collaborates with Italian mills to develop fabrics. “And then here in Brazil I use all the artisans,” she said. “It’s like a Brazilian product with an Italian side to it.”
An evening gown takes a month to make by hand and costs $6,000. The denim pieces range from $300 for a skirt to $800 for a sweatshirt. While she plans to offer the same designs in Brazil and the U.S., she adjusted the fit to better accommodate an American customer. For instance, she widened the torso and narrowed the hips for the pieces intended for the U.S.
To effectively display the detailed designs in her L.A. store, she follows the same minimalist aesthetic adopted for her boutiques in Brazil. Copper racks glimmer against off-white walls. The decor appears cozy instead of austere with wood tables, comfortable chairs and rugs. “So you can feel at ease, like an at-home feeling,” she said.
In a sign of appreciation for the artisans who work for her, she has a social project called Women for Income, which teaches Brazilians in Uberlândia how to embroider and provides music lessons, soccer practice and food to their children. She also works to improve her design process to minimize waste and help the environment. “As a brand, we are against fast fashion, and encourage our designs to be passed from one generation to the next,” she said.
Close to Hollywood and its influential circle of celebrities, she thinks she’s made the right choice for her American premiere. “I want to show to the U.S., and consequently the world, how things are made in Brazil,” she said.