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City Style Snapshot: Salvador da Bahia


 

Baiana women dance in their fabulous fashionable regalia

Baiana women dance in their fabulous fashionable regalia

 

Exploring the sultry sensibilities of this Brazilian city. 

By: Sarah J. Montoro

 

On the coast of the Brazilian Northeast, cradled in the sun-soaked arms of the Todos os Santos Bay, Salvador da Bahia is everything I love in a city: laid-back, yet bold. Raw and immodest. In fact, “modesty” isn’t even in its vocab – especially in terms of fashion. Arrive fully clothed and the city will strip you down by sunset.

 

Soteropolitanos are notoriously easygoing and always ready for a party. When work’s over they take to the beach, or gather together at the red and yellow tables that dot the sidewalks of outdoor bars and barracas.

 

At restaurants in Barra and Rio Vermelho it’s not unusual to look under the table and find your waiter sporting Havaianas flip-flops with the famous Brazilian flag logo on the strap. Everyone owns a pair, and these days white-walled Havaiana storefronts pop with rainbow displays of varied colors and styles on every corner, fitting in nicely with the surrounding buildings in pastel pinks, blues, and yellows.

 

Beautiful buildings of

The picturesque buildings of Salvador da Bahia

 

Of course, beachwear is a fashion staple in Salvador. To avoid tan lines women wear triangular micro-bikini bottoms with strapless bandeau tops. Men prefer hip-hugging sungas instead of baggy trunks, and sport them along the sidewalks in solid colors with a certain bronzed bravado.

 

Then there’s the baianas in traditional costume, with colorful turbans, wide hooped skirts, and embroidered shawls. I see them in the markets or on the bus, waiting with burgundy smiles, one hand on their hip, and the other twirling the long glass beads between their fingers.

 

African influenced religions play a large role in Salvador’s craft culture, which has been largely preserved in jewelry making. Accessories made from glass beads, leather, wood, and seashells decorate the wrists of sunburned tourists in faded Bob Marley t-shirts, but often serve a spiritual purpose as well.

 

Further away from the bustling beach culture, the middle class prefers a clean, modern look. With Brazil’s economy on the rise, it seems increasingly self-conscious of the way it presents itself, and name-brands like Lacoste and Michael Kors serve as social status symbols. Still, their fabric prints remain distinctly influenced by the tropical landscape. They’re not afraid to mix white or khaki shorts with blouses painted with bright macaws or artfully designed rhinestone kiwis and palm trees.

 

Clearly what unites Salvador’s mixture of tourist and urban fashion is a deep appreciate for the aesthetics of the land. Weather you’re at a high-end night club with the rich kids, partying in Pelhorino with the backpackers, or just hanging at the beach, the shimmery tropic vibes of Soteropolitano fashion is alluring.

 

 

Photography by Sarah J. Montoro

 

 

*Born in Los Angeles California, Sarah is a writer, wonderer, and lover of shiny things. She currently lives and works in various cities throughout Brazil. Check out her thoughts at http://smontmonster.tumblr.com/

 

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