On the Radar

Blame it on Rio

A new wave of Brazilian designers is setting up shop in some of New York's most cutting-edge quarters. And leading the pack is Carlos Miele. His futuristic outpost is one of the latest arrivals in the überhip meat-packing district, showcasing his designs for women, which use ruffled silk, leather, chain mail, even fabrics made of optic fibers. "I'm the antiminimalist," says the designer, whose embellished confections are often hand-finished in Rio favelas (shantytowns) as part of an innovative community empowerment program. Our favorite is his collection of dresses ranging from long and elegant in tame solid colors to fluttering and asymmetrical in not-so-tame prints ($2,000-$3,000). A few blocks from Miele is the jewel-box boutique of women's shoe designer Constança Basto, a 26-year-old Rio native and one of fashion's brightest rising stars. Her sexy sandals and boots are made of exotic skins adorned with feathers and crystals and cost $225-$400. But don't be fooled by the tiny straps and three-inch heels. Basto pays particular attention to (shock!) comfort when designing her shoes, allowing for extra toe room and better support. Trying them on at her bold, orange-and-white-striped shop is a joy—not least because it's a chance to sip a cafezinho, a traditional Brazilian coffee. A big bowl of sonho de valsas, rich Brazilian chocolates, greets visitors at Espasso, the mammoth furniture gallery near MOMA Queens opened by Sao Paulo-born Carlos Junqueira. Spread over 6,000 square feet, Espasso is the first shop in the country that's dedicated solely to Brazilian design from the 1930s to the present. Espasso's fabulously curated collection includes pieces by midcentury masters like Ricardo Fasanello and current designs from Carlos Motta, Etel Carmona, and the duo Luciana and Gerson. We especially love Motta's wood-and-leather chairs ($400-$2,500), which have an updated arts-and-crafts feel with sensual curves. Carlos Miele, 408 West 14th St.; 646-336-6642; www.carlosmiele.com.br. Constança Basto, 573 Hudson St.; 212-645-3233; www.constancabasto.com. Espasso, 34-01 38th Ave., 4th floor, Long Island City; 718-472-0022; www.espasso.com.