It’s the countdown to the major fashion event, and designers are painstakingly putting the finishing touches on their creations, choosing just the right accessories and arranging the runway lineups.
The 14th annual Miami Beach International Fashion Week begins Wednesday, March 21, bringing together top emerging designers from all over the world to showcase their talent to an international audience.
“We keep getting bigger and bigger,” said Beth Sobol, president and executive producer of the four-day event. “Designers are coming from more countries, and different countries,” including, for the first time, the Kingdom of Bahrain and Greece.
This year’s event promises to showcase 55 designers from 25 countries. It’s touted as the largest Latin American and international designer event in the United States.
Over the years, the fashion event, which has also been held on the mainland, has launched emerging designers’ careers in the United States, introducing them to American buyers and consumers.
Among them: Esteban Cortazar and Silvia Tcherassi from Colombia; Sitka Semch from Peru; Ruben Campos from Chile; and Manish Arora and Sabyasachi Mukherjee from India.
“It’s great to see them grow and see them flourish,” Sobol said. “They learn so much, too. We have educational seminars and we teach them how things are done in the U.S. retail market and what buyers expect.”
Miami Beach International Fashion Week, held at the Miami Beach Convention Center, will begin with a swimwear show from five designers on Wednesday evening. That will be followed by a two-part show, “Prelude,” with seven top Florida emerging designers presenting capsule collections of eight outfits each, and the “Miami Style Showcase,” featuring four of South Florida’s top established designers. Each will present 20 outfits, Sobol said.
Designer Kayce Armstrong creates a one-of-a-kind collection, called Art of Shade, and a ready-to-wear line, AOS. She rolled out her first AOS collection last year at the event, and won the Designer’s Choice Award 2011. Her fashions will be featured in the Miami Style Showcase on Wednesday.
“This year I am working with tarps from the side of buildings with repurposed dead bolt, the end of the line for the fabric,” said Armstrong, whose designs are made at her shop in Hollywood and sold there, as well as at Haus Fashion in Wynwood.
Called “Evolve,” her 2012-2013 collection will include jackets made from tarps found on the sides of buildings, and other designs inspired by “nature, the sky and the science of sails.”
In the days leading up to the show, she said, she is finalizing her finale gown, called “Tectonic Plates.”
“This collection is so important to me,” Armstrong said. “It’s really an evolution of struggling over the years and trying to stay true to what my aesthetic is, to use recycled materials and not waver from that commitment.”
Viviana Gabeiras is showing her line, Petit Pois by Viviana G, for the third consecutive year, opening the Miami Style Showcase this year.
A graduate of Parsons School of Design, Gabeiras launched her contemporary, luxury knit collection, made out of mesh, in 2000. The line is produced at her factory in Hialeah, and carried by high-end boutiques, including Chewing Gum in Miami Beach, Dazzle in Fort Lauderdale, Crazy Couture in Sunny Isles Beach and Dominique in Coral Gables.
Gabeiras said her fall 2012-13 collection, which will debut on the runway, is inspired by Florence Welch, of Florence + the Machine.
“She’s very eclectic, bohemian, a free spirit,” Gabeiras said. “She likes prints and likes to mix them.”
As the fashion week approaches, Gabeiras is finalizing shoes and accessories, and reworking her long gowns.
“I’m recutting [the gowns] to make them even better,” she said. “You are never satisfied. You always want the best and are always working with details. And if it’s not as you like, you start over again.”
She also will be casting models and selecting the lineup for the show. And she is creating and fitting Sobol with two outfits to wear to the opening and closing events, including palazzo pants, a long tank and a drapey jacket in rouge, and a long black dress with a slit.
Sobol began her career as a model, working in 35 countries, and living in Paris for 12 years, as well as in Japan and Italy. When she retired from modeling in 1996, she started a production company, launching her first fashion week in 1999.
“I took what I learned over 20 years as a model, working in different countries with different designers, and brought it back here,” she said.
Over the years, her international fashion week event has moved back and forth between Miami and Miami Beach, as the number of designers has more than doubled, and the number of international media attendees has swelled from 70 in the first year to 650 this year.
“I knew when I started this thing that it was going to take off,” said Sobol, who in 2010 brought a managing partner, Aaron Perry, to the Plantation-based production company, now called Sobol-Perry Fashion Productions.
This year’s Miami Beach International Fashion Week will feature multiple fashion shows each evening, as well as various seminars, including one offered by singer Dionne Warwick, who will also host the opening press conference on Wednesday.
In addition, designer Nicolas Felizola will present a special collection of “Red Carpet” gowns worn by some of Hollywood and Latin America’s biggest stars.
And for the first time, this year’s event will also include a pop-up shop each evening, offering a sample sale of the designers’ work, not showcased on stage.
Sobol and Perry, who also launched the Miami Beach International Bridal Week this year, are working on developing additional fashion week events to be held in other U.S. cities as well as around the world, starting next year.
“There’s been a great deal of interest from markets both within the United States and abroad,” Perry said, “as well as potential strategic partners, who want to work with us to take our brand worldwide.”