ISSUE #003


Within the quiet elegance of The James Hotel SoHo, we find ourselves in conversation with model couple Fábio Nunes and Carolina Fontanenti. Join us as Fábio, a zero-waste chef, and Carolina, a jeweler and activist, reflect on love, transformation, and a mutual regard for conscious living.

VARAMODE: The two of you have been involved in so many incredible projects! How did this all begin?

CAROLINA: Moving to New York was certainly a catalyst. Fábio and I have been working as models for many, many years, and for much of that time we were only focused on our careers.

FÁBIO: And then we moved to New York.

CAROLINA: Yes, and it was here that our lives started to change completely. We learned so much from living in the city and getting in touch with all that it has to offer. Especially in terms of food, as Fábio is so passionate about food. I am as well, but I mention him in particular since he really puts his hands on it and creates something.

VARAMODE: He’s tangibly passionate with it.

CAROLINA: Yes, exactly. So, it was here that we became more conscious not only about healthy food, but about what is good for your health.

FÁBIO: It started with the food for us, but soon became much larger. It wasn’t about the quality of the ingredients or eating organic. You know, Carolina, she is my inspiration. She inspired me to take something that was my passion since I was very young and to transform it into something greater—something much more conscious.

CAROLINA: We started to pay more attention to everything that we were consuming and doing – from where a product came from to the ways in which we were exercising. We started to think about everything that we put inside our bodies…

FÁBIO: …and also our brains.

CAROLINA: Yes, exactly. We wanted to do things with a purpose. So, we would watch a particular show because of what it could teach us, or because the visual imagery was a representation of something greater. Sometimes we just wanted entertainment, and that was ok too. But we wanted to be more conscious than we were before. In the past, we were only thinking in terms of ourselves. We thought because we were models we had to travel to specific places, or behave and work in particular ways. It’s so clear to us now that New York was such a milestone for us in terms of personal growth. It truly changed how we would view the world. On him: Suit by Ralph Lauren, Shirt by Michael Kors, Belt by Boss, Shoes by Cole Haan. On her: Dress by Tibi, Shoes by James Chan.

VARAMODE: And it was after living in New York that you became involved in Comida Invisível as well, no? Can you tell us more about that?

FÁBIO: Absolutely. The project is called Comida Invisível, which translates to “Invisible Food”. In Brazil, something like 30-percent of all the fruits and vegetables harvested are discarded. That’s about 40,000 tons daily. We did a lot of work with one of the founders, Daniela Leite, to affect São Paulo law so that companies would be forced to donate food products that have lost their commercial value, but are still consumable. There’s even an app now that makes it easy for companies to donate food and helps people who really need it learn how to receive it. During one of the months that we worked on the project, I cooked about 5 tons of food that would have otherwise gone into a landfill, and not because it was unfit to eat! We were instead able to sell this transformed food and donate the proceeds.

CAROLINA: We would often take a food truck to areas with other food vendors and help raise awareness around this issue. Comida Invisível really resonated with us, as New York really stimulated our personal transformation, and here we were in São Paulo talking about how the food was transformed into something really incredible and helpful. This was also right after Fábio starred on MasterChef [Editor’s Note: Fábio starred in MasterChef Brazil Season 3, placing 5th with 7 wins], so he was very recognizable! People would show up to the events just to see him and take pictures.

FÁBIO: We would be prepping food from very early in the morning until the end of the day. And this was only to prepare the food—not even to cook it yet! Wilma Kövesi de Cozinha, one of the oldest culinary schools in São Paulo, lent us their kitchens. For 3 days at a time, we would be cooking all of the food. It was exhausting, but we didn’t notice it in the moment. It was so gratifying to be able to apply my passion in such an impactful way.

CAROLINA: And then he would also help to serve the food. We would spend all day in the truck selling the food and explaining to customers what we were trying to accomplish. Fábio would be exhausted for half a week after each event, but he never stopped.

VARAMODE: You never stop either! Can you tell us a bit about Kargoe?

CAROLINA: Another very exciting project! Kargoe is a new social media app that was founded by my dear friend—beauty photographer Kenneth Willardt. What makes it really special, and resonate with us in particular, is that it was designed to give back to the world. At its core, Kargoe is a social marketplace where you can shop the products and services featured in the content that you create and post. What really sets it apart is that a percentage of all the sales made on the platform go to charity, and you get to select which ones.

VARAMODE: And what is your role there?

CAROLINA: So, when Kenneth came to me with this project, he said, “Come activate your activism with Kargoe.” A week later, I was in his office learning what it was all about. Seeing him talk about it really stirred up something inside of me. I embraced it wholly because it’s so me; it’s so aligned to what I want to be doing and everything that I am about. And personally, I had been looking for new tools and new ways to evolve, inspire, and impact others.

FÁBIO: And Kenneth is so passionate about the project.

CAROLINA: He is! I really admire him. He’s so talented, professionally, and now he is helping by enabling me in this way. I started working with him to try to bring on new organizations, businesses, and users so that we can grow the community. I’ve spoken with a lot of my previous agencies, as well as brands I’ve worked with, to get them on the platform. The company’s mission is to use the profits to help clean the oceans of plastic. That plastic will then be recycled, and eventually those proceeds will go towards funding sustainable energy initiatives like windmills and solar farms.

FÁBIO: [laughs] It’s also great as a marketplace.

CAROLINA: Yes! Fábio has it too—that’s the primary way that we promote what he does. We made a profile for The Healing Kitchen, where people can book him as a private chef. I also sell my jewelry on there.On him: Shirt by Tommy Hilfiger, Pants by HVRMINN. On her: Shirt by Michael Kors, Earrings by Joanna Laura Constantine.

VARAMODE: Your bracelets are so beautiful. How has that been going?

CAROLINA: It’s been growing so quickly! The orders come in faster than I can make them, at times. Now I have to really be prepared and I am starting to think about the long term. But the beginning has been so exciting.

FÁBIO: It’s so beautiful to read the clients’ feedback and to experience and to learn with them.

CAROLINA: You know, it makes me happy and want to do it even more. It’s so powerful to read the feedback from people who bought and wore it. It makes it so much more special.

VARAMODE: Because each one is special to you.

CAROLINA: Yeah, as each piece is one-of-a-kind. And sometimes I know who the owner is going to be. It’s nice to know who is going to be wearing it. I can put extra love into each knot that I tie.

VARAMODE: It’s so beautiful the way you both are able to share and support each other’s passions and creative pursuits. Can you tell us a bit more about how it all began?

CAROLINA: When we first started dating, we spent a lot of time in the kitchen together, both thinking of recipes and exchanging recipes from our mothers. It made sense, as we were both very far away from home when we got together, so we would talk about food all of the time. Everything else really grew from there.

FÁBIO: Next month we will have been together for 10 years, but we met about a year before that.

CAROLINA: We met in 2007.

FÁBIO: It was just for half a night in Milan.

CAROLINA: We had a mutual friend, and she told me, “We are going to have a party at our place with all of the boys that live here. We are going to have a barbecue, bring your girl friends!” So, I went there with my two blonde friends, but I didn’t know anyone else there.

FÁBIO: And there I was, making the barbecue.

CAROLINA: The gathering was actually to celebrate Fábio’s birthday.

FÁBIO: I don’t remember much from that day, actually. I was turning 22, so I was pretty far gone by the time she arrived. I had started celebrating pretty early in the day, and I don’t think Carolina arrived until around 8 or 9 in the evening. But I remembered her voice, and I kept it in my head.

CAROLINA: After that encounter, we both ended up returning to Brazil. We later connected on Orkut [Editor’s Note: Orkut is a social networking website owned and operated by Google from 2004–2014], but we didn’t actually get to see each other.

FÁBIO: Well…you saw me [laughs].

CAROLINA: Ok, I saw you at one party in São Paulo. I never really go to parties, especially back then as I was living with my parents. But one night my friend said to me, “No, come on. You never go out. Come with me!” So, I went to this Fashion Week party and I was so bored! I just wanted to go home until I saw Fábio through the crowd. I was so excited to see a friendly face, but then he disappeared…

FÁBIO: You wrote me about it afterwards though! [mimicking Carolina] “Oh I saw you last night…”, but you didn’t say hello to me!

VARAMODE: Tsk tsk tsk.

FÁBIO: That’s exactly what I wrote back to her, ”tsk tsk tsk”!

CAROLINA: He really wrote me that! [mimicking Fábio] “You actually saw meeeee, but you didn’t want to say ‘hi’, so you pretended that you didn’t see me?” Oh my gosh, I almost died.

FÁBIO: Tsk tsk tsk.

CAROLINA: We finally saw one another again much later that year in Milan. I was arriving at my last casting of the day and I was so just so exhausted. I was lining up and thinking, “oh great, there’s one more model in front of me.” But it was Fábio, right there in front of me! I saw it was him, but I remember thinking to myself [wide eyed] “what is his name?! Oh my gosh, I forgot his name!” His first words to me, after not having seen one another for so long were, “You don’t have to pretend that you remember my name. I saw you peeking at my comp card just now.” He said that!

FÁBIO: In a sweet way, not like the way she just said it!

CAROLINA: That was what I was doing though…

FÁBIO: Well, I had started the conversation with her because I didn’t remember her name [laughs].

CAROLINA: [laughs] He spun it very well. He put all the guilt on me. I only remembered that his last name was Nunes.

FÁBIO: I only remembered your first name.

CAROLINA: Really?! See, we complete one another, Mr. Nunes.On him: Suit by HVRMINN, Shirt by Michael Kors, Shoes by Cole Haan. On her: Suit & Shoes by Tibi, Camisole by Cami NYC, Necklaces by Pascale Monvoisin.

VARAMODE: So, it was after that interaction that you started to see one another more often?

CAROLINA: Yes, shortly after that he offered to cook for me. But you should know there is only one thing, food-wise, that I don’t like. And that is tomatoes. Back then I liked them even less, and Fábio, well, he had bought these incredible, fresh, Italian tomatoes and was so excited to make a special bruschetta for me.

FÁBIO: And it was amazing. I was so proud of it. I had cut the tomatoes into these perfect cubes…

VARAMODE: But it was tomatoes.

FÁBIO: Yeah, like 3 fingers worth of tomatoes on a little piece of bread with olive oil.

CAROLINA: So, we sat down to eat and I saw the big pile of tomatoes, and I thought to myself “oh my gosh, I can’t believe I’m going to have to eat tomatoes tonight.” But I did! I just put it in my mouth and swallowed.

FÁBIO: [snickers] That’s what she said.

CAROLINA: [laughs] Fábio asked me, “Is it good?” I told him it was amazing, but I didn’t taste it at all…I just swallowed it.

FÁBIO: You really sold it though.

CAROLINA: And I didn’t tell you for a while…

FÁBIO: For almost a week! The following week you said to me, “Ok, you can cook for me again but I have to tell you something. I know you are just crazy about these tomatoes but I really don’t like them.”

CAROLINA: I ate it because I was really into you and didn’t want to say anything bad.On him: Shirt by Boss, Pants by Ralph Lauren, Necklace by Pascale Monvoisin. On her: Dress by Georgine.

VARAMODE: She knew what would happen if she didn’t eat that night.

FÁBIO: If she hadn’t eaten that night, I would have…psh…I would have done the same, in that situation.

CAROLINA: It would have been such a turn-off. No way. And I didn’t want to be that kind of girl, the one who says, “Oh, but it’s the only thing that I don’t eat, I swear!” Our first dinner together? He never would have believed me.

FÁBIO: I would have jumped from the balcony. I wouldn’t have wanted to live [laughs].

CAROLINA: See? So, I followed my instinct. I couldn’t be that girl, otherwise we wouldn’t be together today. He would have jumped from the third floor right into the canal.

Discover more about VARAMODE members Fábio Nunes & Carolina Fontaneti.
To find out more about Comida Invisível, visit their website
To find out more about Kargoe, or to download the app, visit their website

Creative Director: G K Lee

Photographer: Rob Northway

Model: Fábio Nunes & Carolina Fontanenti

Stylist: Mimi Kim

Hair & Make Up: Claudio Belizario

Assistant Hair & Make Up: Karl T. Payton

Producer: Ariel Elia


Special thanks to The James Hotel SoHo, Eric Witman, Dior Homme & Dior Diorskin Star.

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