Rio Carnival Fashion

/ Fashion, Travel Image : Rio de Janeiro Carnival, T Photography

Rio Carnival, the only festival in the world when it comes to clothing, less is best.

Carnival Beginnings

The Carnival in Rio de Janeiro is considered to be the biggest carnival in the world, with two million people per day partying and celebrating. There are many theories as to how the Rio Carnival actually began, carnival balls were extremely popular in Rio in the 19th century and there was a heavy influence of Afro-Brazilian culture in the form of the samba in the 1930s. People would dance and parade through the streets to music and this soon developed into something much more, a competition between the samba schools of Rio.

Samba Schools

For the Rio Carnival each samba school is judged on a number of things, for example their samba song, percussion band, floats, props and of course their costumers. Each samba school picks their own theme, it could be anything from zoo animals to a celebration of a particular period. Once the theme has been decided the school must illustrate it through every part of their work for the carnival.

The samba school has 80 minutes to parade through The Sambodromo, (the stadium of samba) and show the crowds and judges what they are all about. Each float is a mass of feather, sequins and glitter, which look absolutely spectacular.

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Samba Dress

Every costume is super colorful, grand and extremely imaginative. Costume prep starts about 8 months before the Carnival itself as the costumes are designed and hand made every single year. Each samba school has its own flag and colors that are present throughout the float itself. There are a number of different types of costumes that the samba schools wear, and these costumes are dependent on what part you play in the Carnival parade.

The first to enter the Sambodromo is the Porta Bandeira, the flag bearer of the samba school; she performs her samba steps and has to wear an intricate sequin and feather costume and dance with the Mestre Sala, her guide and protector. The couple’s outfits are inspired by the elaborate and grand costumes of the nobility of the 18th century. The Porta Bandeira must dance with the Mestre Sala, interact with the audience and ensure that flag does not touch her body or wind around the flagpole otherwise she will lose points for her troupe.

Then come the women in the teeny tiny bejeweled outfits, the passistas. They are especially chosen to wear some of the most impressive and extravagant costumes because they perform at the top of the floats for all to see. The passistas are some of the greatest samba dancers in the world so their costumes are the best of the best. They can be made from feathers, silk, coins, gems and then the destaques are covered in body paint and glitter for their performance.

The soul of the samba school is represented by the Bahianas, this is where the African roots of the school come out. This section is dedicated entirely to the women who every year prepare their samba school for the Carnival. They perform wearing their traditional Bahia costumes, which consist of a colorful turban-style headdress, a full white-hooped dress, shawl and lots and lots of jewellery.

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Now we’ve filled you in on who wears what and if you’re planning on celebrating Rio Carnival this year we suggest you pop down to your nearest shop and buy the most extravagant, sequin covered outfit you can find and you’ll fit right in. Or if sequins and feathers aren’t really your sort of thing then throw on your favorite samba schools colors and you’ll be ready to celebrate Carnival all day long.



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