The memory of the Latin city’s samba beat and soft sandy beaches takes Windy Aulia back to the heart of Rio de Janeiro.
Rio de Janeiro has been on my travel wishlist ever since I heard the song “The Girl From Ipanema” all those years ago. So when the moment finally came—after a 30-hour plane ride, two layovers and countless Bossa Nova songs—and I looked out of the airplane window to see a long stretch of white-sand beaches with Rio’s Sugarloaf Mountain in the background, it was a dream come true. And, might I add, this had nothing to do with the recent Olympics.
As I got lost in Astrud Gilberto’s velvety voice, the breathtaking view took me even farther away to a place where life is nothing but for amazing beaches. No amount of Lonely Planet guidebooks or TripAdvisor reviews could have prepared me for what lay before me when I landed.
The beat of this amazing city is truly centred on the golden sand dunes of Ipanema and Copacabana. Between their morning jogs and sun tanning sessions, the beaches are where the locals hang and tourists crowd, which makes them ideal for people watching.
An aerial view
of Ipanema beach. Tami
Glauser in a cut-out
that showcases Nicolas
Ghesquière's playful take
on youthful sexiness mixed
with a sporty edge.
It might have been a different case for Nicolas Ghesquière, who was drawn to Rio for its futuristic architectural wonders by the likes of Oscar Niemeyer— Brazilian architects have always been regarded as some of the most progressive in their field.
Ghesquière invited select guests and press members, including yours truly, on a journey to the heart of South America to witness the Louis Vuitton Cruise 2017 fashion show at the Niemeyer-designed Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Niterói.
As part of the immersive brand experience, we had the chance to go on a scenic helicopter ride for a bird’s-eye-view of Rio, courtesy of Louis Vuitton. It was simply magical.The mix of terrains with sprawling mountains and sandy beaches, was clearly God’s gift to the Cariocas, the people of Rio de Janeiro.
Speaking of the Almighty, those few minutes when the helicopter hovered right in front of Christ The Redeemer, Rio’s famous landmark that sits atop a 700m hill, was a perfect Kodak moment.
Van Haaster is a vision to
behold in a printed
pinafore piece worn with
a silk and lace blouse
Back on land, tall and tanned girls and lithe boys were playing frescobol, one of Brazil’s favourite beach games. I was there just a month before the Olympics so the air was heavy with anticipation and excitement—game fever was practically palpable.
Plus, there must be something in the water because as a whole, Brazilians are such a beautiful race. Their welltoned honey skin glistening under the mild May weather, their Colgate-white teeth and angular taut faces full of smiles and laughter.
It may have looked like a Coke ad, but this was the Real Thing. Blame it on the sun, sea and sand combination or, perhaps, the cachaça— Brazil’s indigenous liqueur made of sugarcane that’s concocted into the most delicious cocktail, Caipirinha.
Agee wears the chunky
rings from Louis Vuitton's
Cruise 2017 collection
A couple of Caipirinhas later, I was in my slippers and checking out the beach promenade. The strong currents left me with no choice but to lounge on a deck chair while burying my toes in the soft Ipanema sand.
A bowl of açaí fruit mix and couple more Caipirinhas later, I was in a happy state of mind and started thinking about the dynamism between Rio’s amazing beaches and high-spirited inhabitants, who seem to possess an enviable passion for life.
Gonzalez carries a
Weekender bag in
the latest print.
It could be this curious, delicious hedonistic mix that Nicolas Ghesquière proposed in his cruise collection. Taking us to the outer city limits of Niterói, we landed by the space-like Contemporary Art Museum, the setting for the spectacular sunset show.
Ghesquière channelled the Carioca’s sporty slant through cutouts in dresses, Havaianas-hybrid sandals and flat shoes, as well as on the basketball shorts looks. There was a certain kind of Samba sassiness permeating through the short frilly dresses.
Ly adds her cool
currency to Louis
On the flip side, the styling of nylon parkas worn over short frilly dresses was where the modern and urban flavour came in the form of alien girls with bodycon dresses and semi-covered sandals, all landing in this sexy, Latin hotbed of beauty.
The UFO-shaped museum building certainly added to that equation. All in all, Vuitton’s given me a heady taste of fashion and beach culture with a dash of futurism, which in a nutshell represents the vibe of Rio de Janeiro.
How do you bottle all of that hedonism? Best head down to a Louis Vuitton store near you for a bag of Latin Bossa Nova dreams— there’s one available in every colour.
day in the life of the
Cariocas on the iconc
Hotel Fasano Rio de Janeiro (www.fasano.com.br) Av. Vieira Souto, 80 - Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro - RJ, 22420-002, Brazil
The Philippe Starck-designed hotel takes its décor inspiration from the heydays of Bossa Nova in the ’50s and ’60s. The sophisticated vibe is further heightened by the warm welcome from Paula Bezerra de Mello, who handles the hotel’s PR— the building where the Fasano stands today belonged to her grandfather.
De Mello counts Francisco Costa and Alessandra Ambrosio as friends, and talks as passionately about fashion as she does Rio de Janeiro, her hometownIf you’re lucky, she’ll show you her childhood favourite spot on Fasano’s rooftop, offering the best view of Ipanema.
(www.zuka.com.br) Rua Dias Ferreira, 233B - Leblon, Rio de Janeiro - RJ, 22431-050, Brazil
Make sure you check out Zuka even after you’ve quenched your thirst with the freshest chilled young coconuts or snacked on açaí fruit mix. Situated in the affluent neighbourhood, Leblon, the restaurant offers Brazilian contemporary cuisine with a dose of local flavours.
The coalho cheese, octopus, shrimp, beef kofta with vegetable and palm heart grilled kebab dish is one of the examples of how Zuka elevates street favourites. Save some space in your tummy to try the to-die-for banana d’agua assada. This grilled local dessert is served with vanilla ice cream and hot molasses. It’s hot, cold, sweet and definitely delicious.
Academia da Cachaça (www.academiadacachaca.com.br) Terrasse Centre - Rua Conde de Bernadotte, 26 - Leblon, Rio de Janeiro - RJ, 22430-200, Brazil
If you want to truly experience the taste of Rio de Janeiro—warm, lively with a touch of spice—you should have a sip of cachaça. The sugarcane spirit is Brazil’s answer to Japanese sake or Mexican tequila.
You can find cachaça as the base to some of the best Caipirinhas and Caipiroskas in town, served up by the bartenders at the aptly named Academia da Cachaça. The most exotic of the many drinks on offer is the Caju Caipirinha, made with cashew apple fruit, which is only available when the fruit is in season.
Feira Hippie Ipanema (www.feirahippieipanema.com) Praça General Osorio, Ipanema
Bring your Brazilian Reais and spend an idle afternoon shopping at this Sunday bazaar. The market has been held in the same area a mere two blocks away from the beach since the ’60s.
It’s a very well-organised affair with stalls offering all manners of local arts and crafts, including leather goods, paintings, clothing, jewellery and even furniture. Many of the traditional food stalls sell the highly addictive pão de queijo (Brazilian cheese roll) as well as acarajé (mashed pea balls) sold by Bahian women.
and Alexandra Micu
(right) stand out in
on the beach