Style

Underwater Fashion

Emanuela de Paula
Emanuela de Paula
Photographer Jacques Dequeker takes to the water for the cover shoot of Brazil's most recent Wish Report. Dequeker captures cover girl Emanuela de Paula as an ethereal goddess in floating gowns and ornate headpieces. | Photo: Jacques Dequeker | Emanuela De Paula, Brazil, Model, Sexy, Water, Pool, Art,

Fashion makes waves

To understand 'underwater fashion,' there are two prerequisites: first, you have to understand what style is. Second, you have to know who Emanuela de Paula is.

As to the first prerequisite ' an appreciation of style ' for some, style is little more than a sophisticated variety of fashion, a measuring stick by which the viewer may distinguish the wannabe's from the real thing, the modish and/or trendy from the truly fashionable. For others, the application of the term 'style' is more encompassing, including decorating and entertaining as well as clothing. For still others, style is the expression of an innate personality, an energizing force that elevates the merely mundane to the rarified heights of the sublime.

In other words, style is one of those evanescent concepts that cannot be precisely defined. It's an idea whose few nodes of fact are made ambiguous by a luminous dust of rumor and caprice. Nevertheless, style, whether we like it or not, whether we have it or not, is a key factor in human interrelations.

Haute couture began in 1945, when an Englishman named Charles Frederick Worth, a draper by trade, moved to Paris and went to work for the Parisian company of Gagelin and Opigez. While there, Worth made dresses for his wife. The dresses caused such a stir that Gagelin and Opigez expanded their fine-stuffs business to include dressmaking. This was the beginning of 'high fashion.'

Certainly Charles Worth never in his wildest dreams imagined anything as exotic or extraordinary as 'underwater fashion,' which, technically, has been around since 1900. Louis Boutan invented the underwater camera in 1893, and published his first volume of underwater photographs in 1900. But the domain achieved fruition in 2010, when Emanuela de Paula graced the cover of Wish Report, a Brazilian fashion magazine.

Photographed by Jacques Dequeker, Emanuela was captured resembling a delicate water nymph adorned in an elegant gown that wafts and undulates around her. Perhaps the most striking of the photos depicts Emanuela in profile, wearing a headpiece. The shimmering blue gown she wears drifts upward around her stationary figure, a most decorative bit of work.

Dequeker accomplished a remarkable feat: he cultivated verve in a new medium, and avoided that dreary flatness that usually accompanies drenched clothing. Not an easy achievement, considering the way light refracts underwater, water's magnification properties, and buoyancy problems. What makes Dequeker's photos so articulate was de Paula's ability to hold absolutely still, even while floating.

In fact, the photos published in Wish Report made such an impact on the fashion world that Karl Lagerfeld picked up on the theme during Paris fashion week: Chanel went underwater, utilizing a seabed dreamscape: white sculpted coral, white sand, dripping sheets of polythene to provide the illusion of water. Lagerfeld didn't really go underwater, he just pretended to. The point, though, was made: underwater fashion received the ultimate imprimatur ' validation.

All of this was made possible by Emanuela de Paula, who hails from Brazil. She has brown hair, brown eyes, and stands almost but not quite 5' 10" tall, wears a size 9 shoe and size 6 clothing. Unbelievably, just as in a fairy tale, Emanuela was discovered on the streets of Recife, the capital of Pernambuco. She's only twenty-four years old, but has been featured in advertisements for Blue Man, Carlos Miele, Cavalera, DKNY, GAP, Gina Tricot, J. Crew, Jones New York, Nieman Marcus, Next, Saks Fifth Avenue, Sephora, Tommy Hilfiger, and Victoria's Secret. The covers of Vogue and Elle, along with myriad other 'slick' magazines have featured her willowy beauty.

Emanuela is the daughter of a White Brazilian mother and an Afro-Brazilian father. "I am what we call 'mulata'," she says candidly. She has also stated that she is one of the few black women in the fashion industry.

In 2009, Forbes cited de Paula as the eleventh highest paid supermodel, earning $2.5 million. Praised as a true super-star by the likes of Anna Wintour (Vogue) and Naomi Campbell, de Paula's career appears ascendant.

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Updated Aug 12, 2017 1:49 PM EDT | More details

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