'This 20 storey building was supposed to become a hotel. But then the people ran out of money and just left it to rotten. We used to have parties here in the fifties, before the whole area became a favela. Since a few years it's a school and sports center for disadvantaged kids'. It's Andrea's mum whom I'm chatting to while cutting tropical flowers on a baseball court overlooking Rio. 'Please hurry up, she's coming', Andrea passes by in a whirlwind looking fabulous even after three nights without sleep. 'I'm so proud of her because it's a big day today', her mum smiles.
Two weeks ago Andrea received a phone call of the French ambassador. If she could organize something for France's first lady who was to officially open the France year in Brazil. Carla Bruni is an ex-model and a singer but her social side has been neglected so far. ModaFusion is a French-Brazilian association which develops eco fashion collections with women in Rio's slums and promotes them through avant-garde music events. A perfect combination so to say.
Ofcourse Andrea said yes although she had to organize everything without her partner Nadine who stays in Paris. Nadine met with France's environmental minister and spoke with him about ModaFusion for four hours. 'You will join us in Rio?', he asked her afterwards. 'Working in eco fashion doesn't make you any richer', she replied and next thing she knew she found herself on the presidential plane to Rio and back in 48 hours. Just for this day.
Toute le French elite is present here next to the swimming pool where some of the kids learn how to swim. And then Carla finally arrives, two hours late, surrounded by bodyguards and high officials. Underneath a parasol, protected from the blazing sun, she watches the fashion show. With chic sunglasses, a big smile and a child on her lap. The batucada band members sweat as they drum the models' rhythm who wear the latest ModaFusion collection of bamboo and organic cotton with Osklen flipflops. 'Of PET and fish skin, you like them?' he asks me. I love them, as I love this city and the work ModaFusion does with the women who are so proudly greeting Mrs. Bruni.
Carla claps her hands and receives hugs and presents. And then, while the kids wave her goodbye in a samba move, she leaves as quickly as she came. Leaving a great impression of what will surely become an excellent France year in Brazil.
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