"Brazil is going through a very privileged moment," said Sao Paulo Fashion Week's creative director Paulo Berges, referring to the country's boom that has propelled into place as the world's sixth biggest economy.
But as occurred at the Rio fashion show last week, the celebration was marred by charges of racism in the Brazilian fashion world because the overwhelming majority of models are white in a country where more than half of the population is of African descent.
In an open letter to the press and Brazilian society, David Santos, a Franciscan friar who heads Educafro, a lobby group fighting for the labor rights of blacks and indigenous people, publicized his legal feud with SPFW over the issue.
And Educafro staged a protest show at its headquarters at which activists demanded that blacks' demographic weight be reflected in all aspects of economic life, including fashion.
Brazil, home to 190 million people, has the world's second largest black population after Nigeria.
Visibly irritated, Borges rejected charges of discrimination and accused Educafro of trying to use fashion week to publicize its cause.
"This is not a territory for inappropriate discussion (of race)," he told AFP. "This is a creative territory."
SPFW opened the 32nd edition of its winter collection at a cavernous hall in Ibirapuera Park, broadcast live on the Internet for the first time, to showcase Brazilian designers. more