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27. Fashion in Brazil during 1950-1960

MAY 6, 2021


In this week’s podcast Pete and Ryan examine all things fashionable in Brazil during the funky fifties (but mostly bikinis, cocktails, waxing of lady peices, cacaça and soccer!

Brazil, 1950-1960, Clothes

In this episode of History Happened Everywhere, Ryan decided to focus on the cocktails of Brazil. And each of those cocktails incorporated Cachaça. This is a liquor made from sugar cane juice (not molasses, like rum) which was originally known as ‘Pinga’ and was made by slaves working in sugarcane mills.

A staple for low-income workers, it found itself being used as a key ingredient in a variety of cocktails, and 15billion litres a year are made in Brazil, of which only 1% are exported. They love it!

Brazil is the world's fifth-largest country and the largest in South America and Latin America

It border most other countries in South America AND surprisingly France (French Guiana is technically ‘an overseas Department of France’)

Brazil is home to the Amazon basin. This is the world’s largest tropical rainforest covering 5.5m sq km.

The 1950s are perceived to be the height of the cocktail age - Cocktail-hour and cocktail parties were an integral part of social life, and bars and clubs are offering a variety of new and exciting alcoholic drinks.

In this episode, Ryan plied Pete with drinks, the recipes for all of which are here:

Brazilian Cocktail recipes:

Caipirinha (kai-pir-in-ya)
This is Brazil’s national cocktail, which originated in the early 1900s as an antidote to the Spanish flu.

Cachaça – (½ cup and 2 tbsps)
Fresh lime (1 x quartered and muddled)
Caster sugar (2 tsps)
Crushed ice (2 cups)
In a large glass squeeze and drop in 2 eighths of lime.
Add sugar, crush and mix with a spoon.
Pour in the cachaca and plenty of ice. Stir well.

This means ‘devil’ in Portuguese. The recipe is from the north of Brazil and the drink is often drunk at Carnival time.

Ice (1/2 cup)
Cachaça (3 tbsp)
Condensed milk (3 tbsp)
Ground cinnamon (1 tbsp)
Honey (1 tbsp)
Guarana (1 tsp) - a tropical berry in the Amazon known to be energizin
Choice: Chocolate powder (1tsp)
Blend until smooth

Caju Amigo
Caju Amigo means ‘friendly cashew’ and it combines two of Brazil’s favourite national flavours:
1 part - Cachaça
1 part - Cashew fruit juice
Recipe: Mix together in a shot glass and serve straight

Leite de Onça
Translates as ‘jaguar milk’ and it has fangs.

1 part - cachaça
1 part - Baileys
½ part - condensed milk
1 part - whole milk
Cocktail shaker with ice, shake, strain into glass
Can sprinkle cinnamon or chocolate powder on top

Rabo-de-Galo x 1
This Portuguese play on words means ‘tail of the rooster’ or ‘cock-tail’

60ml - Cachaça
15ml - Red vermouth
15ml – Cynar (Artichoke Liquor)
Stir with ice, and decorate with orange zest

Bossa Nova
Named after the famous Brazilian dance
Dark rum
Apricot brandy
Freshly squeezed lime
Pineapple juice
Strain into a tall glass of crushed ice
Garnish with pineapple on the side
What was happening in Brazil in our time period
The post-WW2 boom sees a period of economic and human growth, that becomes known as the Golden Age of Capitalism.

In Brazil, it was a time of frequent upheaval and changes of government. In 1951 - Getulio Vargas was re-elected president.

Three years later, in 1954 – the military gave Vargas the option of resign or be overthrown – he chooses the unstated option 3 and kills himself.

In 1956-61 President Kubitschek steps in and rapid economic growth happens. He moves the capital to Brasilia, building a city based on a line of transport and communications.

In 1960 Quadros becomes president, but then he resigns several months later. This triggers a constitutional crisis and Joao Goulart takes over the helm.

Cinema in Brazil.
Brazil had a very active film industry based in Rio de Janeiro during 1930-50. Feature films were either big-budget epics that imitated the style of Hollywood or cheap, comedic musicals, known as chanchada (meaning trash, filth, trick).

These films were very popular with those of low income and made household names of their stars, including Oscarito, Brazils most loved comedian, and dancer, singer and actress Carmen Miranda (of the fruit-hat), got her start in films Alo, Alo Brazil and Alo, Alo, Carnaval.

In the late 1950s, student filmmakers, influenced by the subversive films coming out of Europe in the French New Wave, started protesting the chanchada films, wanting more meaningful content. They started making films of their own, this time with an emphasis on politics, social equality and revealing the truth of the country's under-development. They set their films in poor fishing villages and urban slums and by the end of the fifties the movement was being labelled Cinema Novo (‘New Cinema’).

Bossa Nova
Times were changing in the world of music as well. Bossa Nova literally means ‘New Trend’ and composer Antonio Carlos Jobim and Guitarist João Gilberto developed this new sound from a combination of soft samba, traditional Brazilian music and rhythm and a dash of American jazz.

Bossa nova came to represent youthful romance, beach culture and sensual pleasure and was played in the clubs of Rio, including 'Bottles Bar'. Bossa Nova sounds were 'discovered' in this club by an American music executive on holiday in Rio and went on to define much of the music of the next decade.

This famously included the hit "The Girl From Ipanema" which was the second most played song in the 20th century, just behind The Beatles' hit track "Yesterday", becoming the signature sound of Brazil.
One of the most recognizable symbols of Brazilian identity is the kit worn by the national football team, and their millions of supporters.

As Carlos Alberto, captain of the 1970 World Cup-winning side said, “For Brazilians, the yellow jersey is sacred, when we wear it, we feel pride but also responsibility - a responsibility to inspire and to excite."

But this was not the original shirt. The story of the shirt dates back to the 1950 World Cup
Brazil played Uruguay in the final. Brazil were winning the tournament and needed only to avoid defeat in the game to take the tournament.

The key match happened in Brazil’s home stadium the Estadio do Maracana in Rio De Janeiro. 200,000 fans were in attendance and Brazil were wearing their (at this time) traditional white shirts, white shorts and white socks.

With 11-minutes to go, Uruguay striker Alcides Ghiggia runs down the right side of the field and takes a low shot that skims just under goalkeeper, taking the score to 2-1, causing Brazil to lose the World Cup.

The aftermath was dreadful, some newspapers and fans refused to accept the defeat, some fans committed suicide, some players never played for Brazil again.

As for clothing, the white kit was seen as tainted and unpatriotic and no one wanted to wear the shirt.

In 1953, a competition was launched by a newspaper, Correio da Manha, to design a new kit using the four colours of the Brazilian flag: yellow (wealth), blue (globe), green (forest) and white (the stars, representing the states).

Of the 401 entries, the winner was an 18-year-old newspaper illustrator, Aldyr Garcia Schlee who sketched a simple yellow shirt.

The new shirt was worn at the 1954 World Cup in Switzerland, and has been iconic ever since.

In the fifties, Rio De Janerio, one of the smallest states in Brazil, was becoming a modern metropolis with 2.5 million inhabitants

Long stretches of white sand drew in tourists from around the world and Copacabana Beach, a long (4km, 2.5mi) beach, became a symbol of trendy youth culture.

On the beachfront was Copacabana Palace. Built originally as a casino (before gambling was outlawed in 1923), it became one of Rio’s most luxurious hotels and it was used as the location for the 1933 movie Flying Down to Rio starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

This extravagance attracted international celebrities, including French models who brought with them… the bikini.

The bikini as we know it today was introduced in 1946 by French engineers Louis Réard and Jacques Heim and was created in part due to the rationing of material after World War II.

The bikini is named after the Bikini Atoll, where first tests of the atomic bomb were taking place and it was just as controversial.

The Vatican declared wearing it a sin, and various countries declared the bikini illegal.

But this didn’t stop its popularity. Contestants in the first Miss World beauty pageant wore them in 1951, and famous models and actresses like Brigitte Bardot, Rita Hayworth and Ava Gardner started getting photographed wearing bikinis on the beach.

In 1956, the bikini arrived in Brazil and it wasn’t long before it was adapted to a higher, more revealing cut known as the Brazilian Bikini.

The introduction of the Brazillian Bikini had a side effect – the fashion for removing body hair

Bikini Wax

The trend for hair removal has a long history. In Ancient Greece, Rome, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Persia, full removal of pubic hair was performed using a paste made from sugar and lemon, known as sugaring which is still popular today.

In Brazil, the introduction of the Brazilian bikini necessitated a closer more extensive level of hair removal. Bikini waxing was introduced and embraced by beach goers.

Wax strips made their début in the 1960s and quickly became the method of choice for removing unwanted hair under the arms and on legs.

it was also around this time that the first laser hair removal method hit the market, but was quickly abandoned due to its tendency to damage skin.

In honour of the Brazilian bikini wax, Ryan and Pete closed the episode by torturing themselves in a ham-fisted display of self-waxing, definitely not something you should try at home, or at least if you do, read the instructions more closely than they did.

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