The Most Powerful Woman in Brazilian Publishing
Daniela Falcão is one of our favorite São Paulo superstars. After 10 years covering politics, she’s embraced her passion for writing about lifestyle as Director of Condé Nast Brazil. We caught up with her to talk about the myth of the Brazilian woman, what makes Vogue Brazil special, and find out about her favorite spots in the city.
Can you tell us how you got your start?
Yes. I've always loved features, but when I went to university, it was quite impossible to have a successful career doing lifestyle. So I chose to write about politics. For 10 years, I covered the congress and municipal administration. I always had in mind that I wanted to write lifestyle, but it wasn’t until I was in my 30s that I started working on a change of career.
What happened then?
I went to New York, and in New York, you have to cover everything: politics, economics, junkets of movies. I was afraid because I had never written about cinema before. The editor of the culture section of the newspaper I was writing said something that resonated with me for a long time: He told me: "You just have to pay attention, research, and say what you feel. How it touched you or not. It's really about being a good observer and a bit of research. Then write as if you were telling it to your best friend."
Seems like great advice. Is that how you ultimately got into fashion, too?
From that point on, I decided that I could do almost anything without being an expert. When I got this invitation to be Editor-in-chief of Vogue, I had already been the editor of magazines covering fashion, but it wasn’t the main focus and the fashion I’d covered was much more alternative. But I knew that if I kept this line of thinking (not being afraid of asking what I didn’t know, paying a lot of attention, and just feeling it) I’d be able to do it. That's how I ended up in fashion.
Do you think Vogue Brazil reflects your political experience at all?
If you look at Vogue, we don't necessarily have articles talking about empowering women, or discussing what's wrong in Brazil, but we have our agenda and are fighting for the things we believe. There’s no other magazine in Brazil or traditional fashion magazine that puts as many black models on the cover as we do. We also have a lot of space for inspiring stories of women or men who are doing something to make Brazil less unequal. We were also the first magazine to have a green page every month featuring a sustainable product. I'm still covering politics in all those ways, but it's much more subtle.
Speaking about the Brazilian woman: do you think she’s a myth? What makes her so unique, and how does Vogue contribute to that?
Everyone talks about how sexy the Brazilian woman is, but I think the key word to describe her difference is "joie de vivre." There are many other fancy and pretty women around the world, but no one can equal us in terms of how we enjoy life. She has this shining energy that floats around her. Germans are punctual and very organized. We have the joie de vivre. I think that's what behind this fascination that people have with us.
That joy comes through in Vogue Brazil.
I don't think any other Vogue has so many people smiling! Some fashion people think the coolest model is angry or extremely blasé. Blasé doesn't fly in Brazil. People reject it. It’s been a fight to convince Brazilian photographers that they don’t need to copy European photographers, that the models could smile. It was a fight in the beginning, but I think we're quite successful now in doing this.
“There are many other fancy and pretty women around the world, but no one can equal us in terms of how we enjoy life.”
What do you like about São Paulo?
I think more than places, there is this energy of the city. It's a very vibrant city. People are always moving. Kind of like New York, but we’re not tough, we’re softer.
Where should we visit while we’re here?
To see that São Paulo spirit, you can just walk around and observe people on the streets. Avenida Paulista is an amazing place. I never get tired of walking its sidewalks, with so many vendors and people coming, going up and down. It’s a must-go. I also love our central park, Ibirapuera. I go every day to jog there, even on the weekends. It’s very democratic. São Paulo doesn't have beaches, so it's the only place that you’ll see people from all different backgrounds and neighborhoods together in the same place. On the weekdays, it's mostly people who live around there, and it's a very posh area. But if you go on the weekends, the whole city materializes down there.
How about favorite places to eat?
In São Paulo, you can eat amazingly well and anything you want. Again, it mirrors New York a bit, so I’d recommend cuisines from the people who have colonized the city, so Italian food is very good, and Middle Eastern and Japanese are the best food in town, especially in immigrant neighborhoods like Liberdade (our Japantown).
If you could recommend one restaurant, which would it be?
For Japanese, I go to Naga, which is very trendy, so you can see the beautiful people and have the best fish, which is quite rare. Normally, restaurants with beautiful people don't have good food! For Italian, Nino. I go there almost every week, and my friends all want to go there. I'm not a meat person, but we’re well-known for the quality of our meat. Rodeio is definitely the best place if you want to eat meat.
To meet more São Paulo superstars, follow along on Instagram at #ChandelierDoesSaoPaulo
Words by The Editors. Photos (c) Daniela Falcão.