In a typical year, today would have marked the grand finale of Carnaval. The annual festival is the biggest of its kind and the most renowned, with viewers from around the globe tuning in to catch a glimpse of its famous samba parades, ornate floats, and glittering costumes. Carnaval’s glamour and magnetic energy has influenced countless films and fashion collections, but it’s more than a nonstop party. A vibrant tribute to Brazilian culture and the last hurrah before the observance of Lent, it is a significant tradition that the coronavirus pandemic has brought to a halt. For the first time in a century, Carnaval was canceled. But that hasn’t stopped Carnaval’s biggest fans from celebrating on a smaller scale, just ask Sabrina Sato.
The Brazilian television presenter has been one of Carnaval’s drum queens for the last eighteen years. A fixture of the festivities, drum queens lead the revelry and send hearts racing with their daring custom looks. Sato would have been front and center, moving through a Sambadrome with the members of Vila Isabel Samba School in Rio de Janeiro or Gaviões da Fiel in Sâo Paulo, but with no parade to take part in, she did the next best thing. She’s been spreading cheer online via samba-filled Instagram posts brimming with dynamic fashion from brands like Area and Balmain on social media. This weekend Sato was streaming from the Anhembi Sambadrome, in São Paulo hosting an special with live performances by Brazilian musicians like like duo Zé Neto & Cristiano and samba legend, Zeca Pagodinho. The party continued online where she shared multiple videos and images using the hashtag #carnavaldasabrina.
During the proceedings Sato changed multiple times enjoying runway fare and custom pieces selected with Vogue Brazil fashion director, Pedro Sales. First up a barely there sparkling pink cutout dress from New York based label, BCALLA worn with matching cowboy hat for a bit of country-western flair. Next, a slinky silver Balmain gown from the label’s Spring/Summer 2021 collection. Appropriately glitzy with a plunging neckline and thigh-high slit, the Olivier Rousteing designed look had disco flair. Both may have been arresting and red carpet ready, but it was Sato’s crystal cup-chain slip dress from Area designers Beckett Fogg and Piotrek Panszczyk that genuinely captured the mood of Carnaval. Sparkling from head to toe with fringe that left little to the imagination, it would have been ideal for sashaying through the streets as a procession trailed behind.
Sato’s vibrant wardrobe stood in contrast to the year’s somber tone. Carnaval’s cancellation has meant the loss of the jobs, tourism, and joy that it usually provides. After dancing solo through a venue traditionally filled with life, people, and music, Sato took to social media to explain why the event holds such meaning. “I realized that carnaval is within us, in the passion for the event that is part of the life of so many Brazilians,” she wrote on Instagram. “Behind the whole party, there are those who hold it [together.] They are people who work tirelessly to make every detail perfect and flawless. When performing Carnaval every year, we depend on many hands, that also depend on this event to survive.” After name-checking the dressmakers, artists, dancers, and samba schools who make it all happen and thanking them for their contributions, she ended her message on a hopeful note. “In 2022, we will be back more renewed than ever,” she wrote. “Long live the Carnaval in every corner of Brazil! In 2022 we see each other on Avenida.”