Criss-crossing every continent, we find David Hellqvist stepping off the catwalk conveyor belt and onto the beaches of Rio.
The waves crashing in on Rio de Janeiro's famous Copacabana beach are some of the fiercest I've ever encountered. You can only battle them for 15 minutes before having to leave, completely exhausted but it's one of the most enjoyable exercise sessions I've ever experienced. Luckily, the many beach bars dotting this legendary spot are selling strong and sugary Caipirinhas for eight Reals (just north of £2) that will perk you right up again. Smack in middle of a beautiful Rio triangle, lined with the Sugarloaf mountain, the Christ statue and the equally classic Ipanema beach, this is a golden spot to observe casual Brazilian life. And it's true; just about everyone - bar the lads and European tourists - wear thongs on the beach. You just have to get used to it, it's a way of life here. Though it's tempting to stay on the Copacabana beach all week long, I was actually in town for Fashion Rio. As the other fashion week in Brazil, Rio de Janeiro has always taken a back seat in this emerging economy as São Paulo is considered to be more urban and gritty with higher quality collections. But I'm not sure Brazil is still 'emerging' though? Has it not got 'there' yet? In terms of fashion, its biggest claims, from an international POV, is having Francisco Costa heading up Calvin Klein Collections womenswear, and Alexandre Herchcovitch showing at New York Fashion Week. Not bad going for a country otherwise mostly known for flip flops and bonkers carnival outfits. Having just got here from Moscow Fashion Week, Rio actually showed off a mature and refined side for autumn/winter 14. I visited Rio two years ago for the same occasion, and this was definitely a step in the right direction.
Except for Herchcovitch, who was the undoubted star, despite only showing his denim-heavy diffusion line, a number of talents impressed with coherent and conceptual designs. Second Floor was a stand out show. Despite the shockingly bad name, Second Floor displayed a brilliant and consistent print throughout the mixed men's and women's show. Remixing a vague floral print, it appeared in different colours and fabrics - and skilful layering made the looks even more appealing. Alessa took a more conceptual approach by working mannish silhouettes into her womenswear collection. Though on the formal side, she played with proportions by including oversized collars and shoulders - all in a monochrome colour palette with a stylish splash of red. Sacada, although quite Dries-like in its aesthetic, managed to create an intriguing collection - mainly through mixing and matching odd colours and fabrics; black with blue, brown clashing with gold, and denim, lurex and brocade-style fabrics mixed with oversized T-Shirt and sweatshirts in cotton. I liked it, it had an air of understated elegance to it, that kind of relaxed luxury we all strive for but struggle to nail. Ausländer was less subtle. With body-con silhouettes, lots of black and white, angular shapes and plenty of capes, this is supposedly how we'll dress tomorrow. I'm not sure about that one. I think Rio and São Paulo will benefit from encouraging more designers to take the Alexandre Herchcovitch route. With his utilitarian and wearable yet challenging aesthetic, he's right on the money. It's aspirational as much as it's achievable - just the right balance between fiction and reality.