After nearly a week of tented runway shows, poolside presentations and a massive trade show, the story of next year’s beach fashion has emerged.
Tribal chic. Pops of neon. Animal and floral prints. And just about anything with a high waist hits the mark for the 2013 swim season.
The Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Swim extravaganza is staged each year in perfectly pitched, air-conditioned white tents on the grounds of the Raleigh Hotel, with a trade show nearby at the Miami Beach Convention Center and a smattering of smaller satellite shows. Collectively, it’s a preview of next year’s looks for the beaches and pools.
The outlook: Expect a smart pastiche of bikinis and one-pieces, breezy print sundresses, caftans and lounge pants, and the predictable assortment of deconstructed and off-the-shoulder cover-ups that also make a splash on dry land. Sarongs had a nice presence, sans the ties, instead attached at the hips with belts and sashes. Designers continued their love affair with color, going for printed florals and fauna, neons and deep hues, some shown in color blocking. Off-the-beaten-path fabrics such as velvet, mesh and exotic skins showed up as well. And, after several dazzling seasons, the popularity of rompers (mostly replaced by separates), thongs, tunics, overly chunky hardware and the unfortunate use of bedroom lace faded.
The runways, more than ever, felt a shade more elegant and practical without losing a sense of fashion and fun.
“The 2013 collection had a strong sense of newness. The swimsuits were wearable and chic,’’ said Sharon Graubard, senior vice president, Trend Analysis of Stylesight. “And Miami is the perfect place to show the collections, it’s a place where swim and resort is a way of life.”
The swimsuit industry — fueled in part by bikini-friendly places like Florida, the Caribbean and Latin America — has exploded into a $4.2 billion business. Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Swim’s official lineup of 32 international designers, along with Salon Allure, based at the W Hotel, and Funkshion (which artfully erected its tent in Collins Park) drew thousands of brands and buyers, media, a few celebrities, those curious about how such tiny stretches of fabric can be made into beach couture and the fashionistas who knew better.
Most every show generated long lines in the prevalent rain and merciless July heat. Thankfully, endless supplies of water and champagne were on hand. Each show was packed, with the occasional front-row celebrity, a throng of photographers and a booming soundtrack. Much like the electric crush of style that is Fashion Week in New York, other designers worked to capture the attention of the annual gathering, hosting events at equally stylish off-site haunts: Lila Nikole debuted her spring/summer 2013 collection at Bamboo Miami; the Brazilian Association of Fashion Designers delivered the latest looks from 17 labels poolside at the SLS Hotel South Beach.
Designer Tory Burch presented her 2013 resort collection at the Delano, the label’s first showing at Miami swim week. Inspired by a recent trip to the Amalfi Coast, where she was wowed by colorful tiles and bougainvillea, Burch turned to seafoam green, pink, purple and her signature navy. She also offered reversible styles.
“We have been a lifestyle concept from day one, always including swim,” Burch said in an email. “We recently expanded our swim collection and felt it was the right time to show it in a more impactful way. Miami is an important market for us. It represents a younger group as well as international customers.”
Designer and model Tori Praver presented a sampling of her 40-piece collection, Ventus Scopis, at The Webster, a luxury Miami Beach boutique. “I wanted to work with the muted colors that remind me of the ocean and the prints that feel like they are wind-swept or blowing in the wind,” she said.
Runways and shows around South Beach were brimming with vibrant beaded necklines, cut-out maillots and bandeaus. Add to that plenty of standard-issue bikinis for hot bodies, with lots of crochet, macramé, lattice, fringe and front and backside ruffle detailing. Dolores Cortés offered a show-stopping white suit, top and bottom connected by an abstract crochet pattern, and a black monokini wrapped in sexy vertical straps.
Designers also turned to the glamour of the past, offering retro high-waist, full-bottom briefs called midkinis in a nod to the pinup girl. Theatrical and fun, some designers sent models down the runways blowing kisses and striking kittenish poses. Lisa Blue did it big with vintage pale pink and blue striped swimsuits.
Re-imagined one-pieces were omnipresent, as was the use of exotic materials: jewels; raffia; wood; metal scrollwork and even Lucite. Aqua Di Lara took the bling factor to the next level, adorning the swimwear with Swarovski crystals.
Some designers tapped into fantasy — think Red Carter’s ode to Studio 54 with a line that ran the gamut from foiled psychedelic to geometric patterns to Art Deco bustiers.
Exotic destinations were also a source of inspiration: Éclairée turned to the shores of St. Tropez and Ibiza for a collection in softer tones such as peach, baby blue and mint green. Poko Pano’s 40-piece collection was inspired by the vibe of Salvador, the capital city of Bahia, Brazil — manifested in bold hues and pastels, leopard and tribal print and florals. Designer Paola Robba said she took her cues from the city’s culture, ranging from famed street artist Bel Bora to the Brazilian martial arts style of Capoeira. Her most dazzling design: a patchwork seagull applique on a black caftan.
Animal prints, a perennial designer favorite, made cameos in most every show, often reinterpreted in bold colors. Cia.Marítima show opened with a stunning yellow leopard monokini with stripes, setting the tone for a collection inspired by Hawaii. Benny Rosset designed a sophisticated collection of swim and resort wear including breezy sarongs that wow on or off the beach. In a collection drawing from Aztec and Egyptian art, Mara Hoffman introduced a slouch-pant and tank dress in snake skin and a flowing blue dress with a wide beaded neckline.
Some of the newest fabrics were practical, too: UV-resistant and even anti-bacterial.
Xtra Life Lycra held a group show in which each of the designs featured used the brand’s fiber. It was part of the company’s global marketing campaign, called Unstoppable, that sends the message your suit should be more than pretty. It should be durable, even in extreme swim conditions that include contact with chlorine and sunscreen, said Ninabeth Sowell, global marketing director of INVISTA, producer of Lycra.
As in years past, the designs were also about evoking confidence in those who wear them.
Said Robba, of Poko Pano: “We want the woman who wears our swimwear to feel beautiful and sexy and powerful.”
Miami.com contributors Maria Tettamanti and Annie C. Vazquez contributed to this report.