Day 2: Friday night started with a trio of reality stars and ended with a fire-eater, proving once again that fashion is never boring—especially when bikinis are involved. At Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Swim at the Raleigh, the evening’s slate of shows kicked off with Beach Bunny, which debuted a line of suits designed by the Kardashian sisters: Kourtney’s Sailor Chic, Kim’s Divinity and Khloe’s Modern Majestic (their presence in the front row, with Selena Gomez, caused the biggest photo frenzy of the week thus far). Overall the line was heavy on lingerie influences, and it’s probably no accident that most of the models looked like, well, the Kardashian sisters. Following a showing of the floral-influenced Dolores Cortes line on a stage adjacent to the Raleigh pool, MBFW Swim hosted Swell Suits Miami, a group show of men’s designers: Naila, Olasul and Parke & Ronen (this New York-based duo is always a favorite for their modern-meets-minimalist designs, though some of the briefer suits should come accessorized with a personal trainer).
While Ed Hardy was sending its array of signature patterns down a Raleigh runway, over at the Setai, Inca CEO and designer Stacy Josloff hosted a private dinner and talked about the label’s pair of South Beach shops, her flagship location at the Gansevoort and another she’ll open at the W South Beach this fall. It was almost midnight by the time the first Inca suit hit the runway, which stretched across the ponds in the Setai’s courtyard, but Josloff made up for the late hour with plenty of wow factor. Cuban percussionists and folk dancers ushered the models to and from the runway, while a gold bikini-bedecked woman opened and closed the show with a fire-eating act. (It lit up the Setai just a bit more than some of the sparkled pieces in Inca’s 2011 collection.) The verdict? A hot show.
Day 3: Saturday means the Miami Beach Convention Center. Time to hit the trade-show side of swim before the runway events kick in later in the evening. Make no mistake: This annual monster show, hosted by the Swimwear Association of Florida (the largest swim trade event in the world), is the reason Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Swim and others who have jumped into the fray this year are able to attract the buyers who have worked the SAF show for years. Synergy is a word people tend to dismiss, but this week of trade-appointments-by-day, glam-swim-shows-by-night is precisely that. With more than 350 exhibitors, SAF is also a chance to see suits up close and personal, from the military-inspired pieces at Lunada Bay and Lucky Brand to the retro-Hollywood vibe of the suits at Jantzen, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.
If there’s a theme to Swim Week 2010, it’s change and evolution, from the solid growth of runway shows outside the Raleigh (Cosabella Mare at the W South Beach, Just Cavalli at the Setai) to the group of designers who broke away from the SAF pack to set up at the W South Beach: Salon Allure, situated in a row of suites on the hotel’s ninth floor, features Red Carter (showing his eponymous line and Jessica Simpson, for which he also designs), as well as Tori Praver, Vilebrequin, Nycked (designed by Lorenzo Martone and Jules Kim) and others.
Back at the Raleigh, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Swim kicked off the night with Swimwear Anywhere, the group that oversees the swim licenses for such labels as DKNY, Marc by Marc Jacobs and Carmen Marc Valvo (loved his divinely simple white one-shoulder maillot, as well as the finale of poolside-chic pieces that signal the launch of his Resort Wear collection). An hour later, Mara Hoffman garnered a standing ovation for her thoughtful “Mystic Jungle” collection, a combination of batik prints, crystal-accented pieces and some of the best cover-ups and caftans seen this week. Rounding out the night at the Raleigh were Poko Pano’s florals and gingham, the denim-meets-boho vibe of True Religion and a dual show, Aqua di Lara and Qiss Qiss, which also featured one of the week’s key trends, ruffle detailing. A sweet end to a jam-packed day.