Photo: Mari Giudicelli 

This summer, many of us were connecting with home in a far more profound way than we ever have before. Due to the global pandemic and subsequent lockdowns around the world, we were, and largely still are, staying put in our personal living spaces or moving back to childhood abodes. For shoe designer Mari Giudicelli, being close to home meant moving back to where she was born and raised in Rio, Brazil for a couple of months. Typically, she’s based in New York City and travels to the South American country several times a year, mainly to visit the small, family-run factory in a countryside town just outside of  São Paulo called Franca,  where her minimalist footwear is crafted. 

During her time at home, Giudicelli was busy working on her resort 2020 collection, which incorporates some of her signature styles like a leather and wood round toe mule into a mix with newer designs, like the utilitarian “Garden” boot and a flat, braided strap sandal, all designed in organic, earthy tones. Giudicelli has always been inspired by Brazilian landscape and culture and she has always used locally-sourced skins, leather, and wood for her tastemaker-favorite shoes. But being away from New York and spending quality time in her hometown has given her a newfound appreciation of the places and people that inform her imagination, even when everything looks and feels so different in the midst of COVID-19. 

For Giudicelli, home really is where the heart is and now she’s pouring her creativity, love and support back into the country, the city, and the rainforests that she holds so close. She’s become entrenched in a not-so-everyday life in Rio and in the forests that surround her city and has seen the devastation caused by coronavirus in a country with similar leadership to the U.S. Brazil’s alarmingly high number of cases mirror that of the States and their president still refuses to enact a mask mandate or acknowledge the severity of the pandemic overall. Rural communities are being disproportionately affected by the crisis as well. 

In an effort to help and in addition to completing her resort 2020 collection while in Brazil, she’s also recently joined the Amazon Forever campaign as an official ambassador. This initiative was founded by Conservation International and is being led by founder of Costa Brazil and former Calvin Klein creative director Francisco Costa. The goal is to raise $1 million to get PPE, medical supplies, and direct funding to the most rural areas in Brazil, namely to the indigenous people who live there and help to protect and nourish the rainforest. Giudicelli will be donating 10% of all proceeds from the online sales of her latest resort collection beginning today through the month of September. On September 5th, which is Amazon Day, the designer will be donating 100% of her profits to Amazon Forever.

As she explains of her involvement in the campaign, “since I’ve been living here, I’ve been witnessing the horror firsthand and felt the need to do whatever I could to help the indigenous communities.” She adds, “the Amazon is going through a terrible deforestation process, the president is allowing for massive expansion in cattle land and on top of that, COVID-19 is spreading quickly among the indigenous people, killing important tribe leaders and leaving their communities with fewer resources and no voice.” Giudicelli also points out that once these people are gone, “generations of knowledge are gone with them, from the usage of medicinal plants to arts and crafts and rituals.” 

The designer has in fact always been passionate about preserving the history and artisanship that she grew up with. She works closely with her pattern maker Bruno and production manager Daiana, whom Giudicelli named one of her best-selling shoe styles after. She learns from them too, and during her time in Brazil over the last few months, whether in Rio or Franca or elsewhere, she’s been reconnecting with the place she calls home. As she explains, “Brazil is my natural state and it allows me to reconnect and reground myself.”

Source Article