In Salvador da Bahia, we were introduced to Candomblé, the mystical Afro-Brazilian religion derived from Yoruba and brought to Brazil with the slave trade. For centuries, Candomblé was practiced in secret, cloaked in Catholic practices in order to protect its devotees from persecution. Today, Candomblé is coming out of the shadows.
On Fridays, the believers wear white in honor of Oxala, the god of creation. The women’s dresses are like frothy meringues, stuffed to their fullest with crinolines and crossed with colorful beads, belts and headdresses. It’s a sacred festival day, a day of purification. They sing and dance for hours, summoning their deities ~ the orishas ~ to cross over from the spirit world and possess the chosen. |ABOVE| Donna Karan tunic, Candela crop top, DKNY parachute skirt, Alice + Olivia ball skirt, Jewels By Dunn jewelry |BELOW| La Petite Princesse necklace, Zimmermann gown, Candela skirt, Sheila Johnson scarf There is no concept of good or bad in Candomblé, only an expectation that every person should fulfill his or her destiny to the fullest, and an acceptance that any harm one causes will return to him eventually. |ABOVE| Jewels By Dunn jewelry |BELOW LEFT| Candela dress, Delpozo gown, A Peace Treaty scarf, Lizzie Fortunato choker, Glamourpuss necklace |BELOW RIGHT| Isoude gown, Delpozo top, vintage scarf The orishas arrive in Candomblé ceremonies to possess the chosen, who gradually begin to writhe and shout, entering into a trance. Those possessed are led away and returned dressed in beautiful, sparkling costumes ~ their colors representing the orisha inside of them. They perform fantastical, ritual dances while a priest sings. |ABOVE| Lizzie Fortunato necklaces, A Peace Treaty scarf, Dries Van Noten top, Delpozo skirt, Candela sandals |BELOW| Sheila Johnson layered scarves, Tanya Taylor top, Glamourpuss necklaces Dancing and great banquets are important pillars of this mystical religion, and women are integral to the Candomblé faith. Services are usually led by women, who are celebrated as ‘mothers of the holy one’.
Everywhere we looked in Salvador, we found traces of Candomblécists. We were moved by the strength of their history, inspired by the beauty of their dress, entranced by the magic of their deities, touched by the power of their dance, changed by the energy of their people.|ABOVE| Miguelina top, Tanya Taylor dress, Candela sandals, Jewels By Dunn jewelry |ON FRIDAYS WE WEAR WHITE| starring Amber Talley |PHOTOGRAPHY| by Jamie Beck |STYLING| by Kelly Framel |HAIR| by Joseph DiMaggio for L’Oréal Professionel |MAKEUP| by Carly Rose for Stila Cosmetics