You would think that swim wear, a $5.4 billion dollar industry in the United States that has been resilient during a recession, and is one of the three best performing categories in the apparel industry, would merit a grand ho-ha of a swim fashion week. You would also think that it would attract all the celebrity fan fare and fashion mayhem found in cities like Milan and New York.
Not so with the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Swim currently being held in Miami. Instead I have seen a lot of disjointed collections, and no celebrities. These amateurish designers have tried to compensate by over stylizing their shows or overtly stuffing models into clothing constructed even too small for their skeletal figures (I know the Speedo bulge is in, but overcompensating is not, nor will it ever be.)
However, there is a sunny side to all this and that is smart collections from a few standouts: Trina Turk, who headlined the opening night of Fashion Week Swim; Red Carter and Charlie by Matthew Zink, who both showed at Salon Allure, a new luxury trade show; and Penguin who swallowed up the SwimShow 2011 at (gasp) the Miami Beach Convention Center. Yes, you really had to schlep to find the good stuff.
Inspired by the glitz and glam of Acapulco in the 70's, Ms. Turk's plunging halter-top suits, flowy maxi dresses and bejeweled bikinis in bright and bold prints were alive and sophisticated. Her take on mesh was refreshing. Done in pants, one shoulder tops and lengthy caftans they were as sharp as her liquid-gold Jersey pants which were a standout.
Hear what designer Trina Turk had to say about her collection (and what's she's reading) plus watch video highlights:
Narrowly falling into the deep waters of hedonistic styling, Red Carter's runway show was overly indulgent. But if you were to strip away the absurd tulle trains, two-foot neck bows and protective armor, Mr. Carter's collection looked better on the rack (which is a big feat), and on the models showing the collection at Salon-Allure.
His neon geometric two-piece with hipster bottom inspired by Mark Rothko, and a Jackson Pollock splattered paint print one-piece are total stand outs for chicks that actually go to resorts. His two-piece halter-tops in stripes and geometric cutouts are clearly made for stylish females looking for sexy and wearable suits.Hear what designer Red Carter had to say about his collection (and what he must travel with) plus watch video highlights:
Over at Penguin, they debuted a concise men's swim capsule by new creative Director Anne Doty-Pane, who found her inspiration from the 1960's. The patterns and prints were very cabana boy, tres Americana. The suits come in three idealistic lengths -- box, volley and board that make them, well, suitable for all mind sets and body types.
The real surprise has come from the former Victoria's Secret swimwear designer Matthew Zink who also found his inspiration for Charlie by Matthew Zink from the 70's. It was the most wearable and sexy collection around with 15 bottoms, 15 tops and a one-piece suit, all solids in gold, white, black and a fiery lipstick red, as well as a chevron pattern, which will come in three colors.
His Jerry bandeau top and bottom (named after, you guessed it, Jerry Hall) are a total stand-out with just enough push to enhance a women's breasts and just enough or not off a bottom that it's perfectly sophisticated.
"We don't need clothes," says Mr. Zink referring to why he ventured out on his own. "We need fashion."