This project emerged from the encounter between São Paulo-based photographer Cassia Tabatini and Berlin/ Paris-based art director Marcelo Alcaide.
Although exclusively featuring outfits designed by Courrèges, where Alcaide works on a permanent basis, this is not strictly a fashion editorial or commission, but rather an exploration of what the brand’s image can be today and how this image can reflect the current sociopolitical challenges faced by democracies worldwide. The introduction of the miniskirt in the 1960s signaled a clear break from habits and costumes grounded on religious and moral beliefs, something that was widely expressed by the global counterculture of the period. How to find a contemporary parallel to the progressive ethos of the brand in times of increasing curtailing of civil liberties and rise of extreme right ideologies on a global scale?
The photographs in this exhibition were taken over the course of 48 hours on a rooftop in downtown São Paulo and feature a mixture of professional models, friends and individuals spotted in the city streets. The raw, non-retouched photographs seek to convey an ‘aesthetics of the laje’ – makeshift rooftop areas that are a typical architectural feature of urban peripheries across Brazil. A popular version of the “cobertura” (the upper-class penthouse), the ‘laje’ is a much-desired space of socialization for lower-income families and individuals who use it on a regular basis for gatherings of all kinds: barbecues, parties, sunbathing, and much more. In this sense, the ‘laje’ signifies the democratization of the exclusive space of the penthouse, configuring a more permeable, do-it-yourself space in which behaviors, bodies, and tastes that do not conform to the dominant white colonial patterns can be expressed and experienced. It’s a space where dissident bodies – black, mixed-race, working-class, non-heteronormative: bodies that are often portrayed to manual/ menial labor – freely celebrate leisure.
The diversity of bodies featured in this series aims to capture the subversive spirit of the ‘laje’ as an unregulated space that defies patriarchal power, particularly in the current moment of increasing intolerance and open violence against minority groups under the far-right Bolsonaro government. The president, who took office on 1 January 2019, has famously made several homophobic, misogynist and racist remarks over the years, fostering an increasing animosity towards vulnerable populations in the country. However, increased access to education and material resources during the Lula years (2003-2011) has produced a younger generation who is not only much more aware of their rights and refuses to accept a backward colonial order as the new norm. This is the generation celebrated in “Cobertura”, and they are the future.