MIAMI BEACH, Fla. — The latest swimwear takes a nod from the past, from high waist briefs and the pinup girl look of the 1950s to the Studio 54 and Dolce Vita eras of the `60s and `70s.
Retro-inspired looks were seen throughout the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Swim 2013 in Miami Beach, where more than two dozen designers showcased their latest collections. The five-day event that ends Monday also cemented some new trends, including crochet, foliage prints, ruffles and fringe.
Also making a splash next summer will be the one-piece and cowgirl-themed suits, boots and all. For the wild-chic look, snakeskin is the animal print to choose.
Kicking off swim week was the Lisa Blue collection, where Australian designer Lisa Burke featured five very different styles.
The Enchantress collection opened the show with a white monokini with gold trimmings. The blue color of the ocean was also seen on the goddess-like models walking slowly – enchanted – down the runway.
Karina Smirnoff of "Dancing with the Stars" picked up the pace as she danced in a bright pink, ruffled-top bikini and a Flamenco-style long skirt for the second Flamenco-inspired collection, which included a one-shoulder bikini top with ruffles on the bottom piece.
Models in cowboy boots, denim-printed swimsuits with injections of red and lace came in for the third collection called The Cover Girl. The Pinup followed with cheeky girl prints and blue and white nautical stripes, with fuller-coverage bikini bottoms.
A martial arts group danced with a paper dragon for the collection inspired by the Year of the Dragon. Burke, the designer, was the last model to walk down the runway in a black two-piece with a Chinese-influenced headpiece.
Cropped jackets with military hardware or maritime accents were part of the Lovely Heroes collection for Agua Bendita. Designers Catalina Alvarez and Mariana Hinestroza wanted to pay homage to the 700 men and women who work on each of the hand-made garments in Colombia.
"They know how to do embroidery. They know how to do crochet. They know how to do an infinite number of things by hand that in the end brings us inspiration," Alvarez told The Associated Press in Spanish backstage before the show.
The collection included military, maritime, cowboy and neon-inspired styles that were embellished with beads, appliques and sequins. The "AB" logo was emblazoned on the espadrilles the models wore and a hot pink plastic handbag that opened the show.
Camouflage suits with military patches and intricate hardware were seen throughout the maritime collection. Prints of anchors and pinup girls showcased the maritime theme, and the childhood game "Cowboys and Indians" came to life with a bolero-style jacket and a touch of Mexican influence in multi-colored beaded suits.
With pops of tangerine and green foliage prints with gold hardware and soda tabs, Brazilian designer Paola Robba stuck to her roots for her latest Poko Pano collection.
The 40-piece collection of bikinis, maillots, caftans and pants was influenced by the rhythm of Salvador, Brazil. Other influences included prints of Bonfim, the Brazilian wish bracelet, the architecture of the historic buildings, and the lush flowers and tropical hibiscus and coconut trees of the region.
A foliage print bandeau had gold hardware detail and a tangerine-banded hipster bottom in a similar foliage print. Soda tabs were chained together and overlaid a printed V-style bandeau.
A gorgeous color block one-piece had a sweetheart neckline and removable straps. Enamel hardware was also seen on a delicate white micro terry bandeau top with a hipster bottom in Bonfim ribbon-inspired print.
Retro looks included high-waist hipster bottoms and a 60s inspired A-line dress with white chained circles and high-gloss patchwork.
Miami Beach was the inspiration for Spanish designer Dolores Cortes, who used vitamin colors and a touch of neon in her sophisticated collection.
"My team loves Miami Beach," she said in Spanish. "We feel very welcomed here."
Now in her third year showing at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Swim, Cortes said the biggest difference between the beaches of Spain and South Beach are how women wear their swimsuits.
"We in Spain, we look for a lot of perfection in the top. And the bottom part, it is more covered. Here it's reverse. Here, they pay less attention to the top but the bottom is much smaller," she said.
Golden reflective laminates were superimposed on some pieces, while others had a mix of animal prints and bright stains to give the wild yet chic look. There were a ton of prints, some with a tie-dye effect. Bikinis included a multi-colored bandeau top with an animal print bottom. Multiple patterns took over a one-piece and a monikini with bright pops of color, and crochet and mesh also made appearances.
The Nicolita collection can be described as a collection of sexy swimwear with curve-flattering styles reminiscent of Cuba's alluring 1940s era – but with a California twist.
The Havana Nights Collection by designer Nicole Di Rocco drew inspiration from her Cuban roots and experiences in Malibu with the help of singer Christina Milian, who said finding the right fabrics was more difficult than she had expected.
"Other than finding a pattern that you like, there are so many different materials that actually work on the body," Milian said of her first collaboration on a swimwear line. "We actually changed the whole look twice."
Models donned a bouncy ponytail and curled up bangs – pinup girl style – with ruched bikini bottoms and bra-like tops with underwire are perfect for the Latina figure. The crowd, including actor Wilmer Valderrama, cheered as one model in a red strapless bandeau top folded her matching high waist bottom to reveal an animal print.
The collection had plenty of cover-ups that can transition from day to night, including a short layered animal-print skirt and high waisted blue pants.
Slimmer cuts for Miami and Brazil are new this season for Tory Burch. Prints inspired by worn ceramic tiles and florals scaled up and down are also new for the collection. There are also reversible styles and four different looks for a rash guard.
In an email, Burch said she was inspired by a trip to the Amalfi coast: "I was drawn to all of the beautiful colors, from green and ivory to navy and pink."
Models lounged poolside in a patterned one-piece and bikini with matching chunky necklaces. One rash guard had the navy ceramic pattern running up and down the sleeves while a bright floral print with pink covered the front.
A Brazilian-cut bikini bottom was particularly cute with its seahorse print. And the reversible style included a black print as one option and a cool orange on the other side.
AQUA DI LARA
The one-piece made a big splash at the Aqua di Lara show by designer Reyhan Sofraci.
"Monokinis are very popular but we decided to reintroduce the one-pieces but with a different cut out, like fabrics as opposed to holes," the designer said. "We really wanted to go back to that because we have been finding a lot of people commenting on tan lines. We still wanted to create that sexy one-piece, so you will see that a lot in this collection."
The White Label collection touches on the feminine look with pastels and lush vibrant colors, detailed prints in luxurious cuts. Among them was a one-piece with a sweetheart neckline with halter straps in a pastel blue on the sides and a flattering print cut that created an hourglass figure.
The Black Label is bold and graphic with jewel tones and metallic prints. The resortwear, including flowing dresses with a deep V cut, can be worn day or night and complement the suits.
Feathers were big for the desert-theme collection by Mara Hoffman, the designer known for her boho-chic looks and unique prints.
A bikini top had a beaded feather print on the straps and a feather temporary tattoo was seen on the models calves' peeking out from above the short cowboy boots they comfortably wore down the runway.
The "Desert Outlaw Gypsies" collection includes pops of neon.
"I didn't want it to overwhelm the collection, but it really does so well for us," Hoffman said backstage. "Our girl responds to a pop of color and it's a fun time to actually put those colors into your wardrobe."
Hoffman added a custom-designed feather print to her pieces, while a snake print was introduced in slouch pants paired with a black crochet top. Braiding and beading were also big in this collection, as seen on multiple straps and U-shaped necklines. A crowd favorite, Hoffman's resortwear included a beaded maxi dress, chiffon dashiki and a cropped top with a touch of Azetec and Egyptian art.
Tropical foliage, shimmering waters and stunning beaches were the inspiration for Benny Rossett's Cia.Maritima collection. The Brazilian designer said he was inspired by a trip to the Hawaiian islands, with its different colors and shapes and designs.
"The environment is similar to Brazil, it's a tropical island," he said. "But what I like is the people are very warm like Brazilian people. I was very welcomed there and I love the place."
Yellow made a splash in this collection in multiple styles. An animal-print monikini with bright yellow straps opened the show, followed later by a yellow tie-dye top tied in a knot to the side and a curve-hugging one-piece with an open back.
Models seemed to be walking on air as their long dresses and printed skirts flowed down the runway.
The story of Red Carter's life and recent move from Miami to New York City inspired his latest collection, which included shiny disco balls and chunky geometric heels.
"We are giving homage to art deco in the first stanza. And then the second is going to be ethnic tribal while also adding a little disco into it," he said of the glitz and glamour of legendary night club Studio 54.
The art deco looks included black and white pieces in architectural shapes and a hint of vintage feeling with geometric hairstyles. There was a tangerine deep-V ruffle one-piece and art deco-inspired demi-underwire and skirted hipster bottom. Many had hints of glitter or gold such as in the black and white "glitter bomb" monikini.
The second part, the "Brazil-esque with disco balls" looks included a safari bandeau and hipster bottom, a black handkerchief bandeau and safari hipster bottom.
Fringe was big again for Monica Wise, who uses the "swing" of the texture to add movement to her pieces.
"It's all about the human senses: seeing, feeling ..." she said of the fringe look among the reversible textures, high-waist briefs and corset tie backs. Wise included fringe in her looks last year and appreciated how "the whole look and swing of it was different than a form-fitting bikini."
A snakeskin print halter top with fringe was among the first pieces of the show. It was paired with a print-matching bottom. Handkerchief-style bikini tops also created movement down the runway.
Her new luxury swimwear line MAIO Swim by Monica Wise includes 27 pieces of mid-kinis and one-pieces with a sophisticated silhouette.
Melissa and Joe Gorga of "The Real Housewives of New Jersey" were front row for the show.
"I can't wait to see the new fashions that come down," Melissa Gorga said before the show. "It's a lot different than New York, but there's a lot of sexy bodies around here this weekend."
WHITE SANDS AUSTRALIA
Romantic looks were seen on the runway at White Sands Australia.
"It's very, very girly," said designer Leah Madden. "I always try to do things very pretty but sexy and with an edge. But this year it's more pretty and more feminine."
Madden kept it simple for The Violet Hour collection. She used touches of ruffles, neon pastel colors (green) and a vintage floral print with large violets over a white palette to create the blissful looks.
Black and pink floral prints were also seen throughout, as well as a pink chiffon-looking bandeau top with a high waist pink and black bottom. A gold sequined top (to be used either as a shirt or fancy cover-up) rounded out the show.
The Luli Fama show was a showstopper, complete with actors in 1960s attire and flapper dancers.
Inspired by the 1960s cult classic "La Dolce Vita," designers Lourdes "Luli" Hanimian and brother-in-law Augusto Hanimian wanted to show how that era was in Italy is now the lifestyle in Miami.
Italy's influence was seen in bold, baroque-style prints and romantic laces. Vibrant colors are reminiscent of Miami. And as for the retro, 60s vibe we saw crochet, fringe, tie dye and kaleidoscopic floral prints throughout.
Brazilian-cut bottoms were among the sexy looks. "If Luli Fama does a high waist bottom it has to have ruched-backed bottom and cheeky butt," Lourdes Hanimian said of the collection, which also included a few thongs.
The mix of retro and modern was seen throughout the collection in girly accents such as ruffles and gold hardware.