- The Washington Times - Monday, July 20, 2009

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. — Old glamour is back in a big way, or at least that’s the indication from this year’s Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Swim fashion shows.

Hot pink proved to be the hottest hue, furthering an already popular ready-to-wear look. It was all over the runways at the Raleigh Hotel in South Beach, as were bathing suits adorned with jewelry and hardware.

There also was a lot of transparent material, creating seductive illusions to tempt the crowd of retailers, editors and stylists previewing 2010 trends. As for shape: It was all about the bandeau and the monokini (attached bikini) or cutout one-pieces.

The shows, which ended Sunday night, displayed many high-waisted and ruffled looks. Many bathing suits were sexy in a feminine way — not overtly flashing a lot of skin.

Cover-ups and beach dresses also played an important role in many collections, and the legend of Gianni Versace still loomed large in his adopted hometown.

Gretta Monahan, a stylist and co-host of Bravo’s “Tim Gunn’s Guide to Style,” was in town to host the Xtra Life Lycra show.

“I think sexy will be reinvented for 2010,” she said. Women will see “that they can wear a lot more, but still look sexy.”


Mara Hoffman

Mara Hoffman’s first runway show for swimwear was dominated by neon pink, turquoise and silver, although at times it looked as if she used the whole rainbow. There were scarab and feather prints.

Some models wore long beaded necklaces that were attached in the front and back and went over the bathing suits, giving them a funky, hippie look.

A black two-piece was topped with a netlike cover-up that Ms. Hoffman said resembled a hammock. There was also a one-piece with a digital print of the galaxy and a long gown with the same print. A black one-piece was adorned with multicolored fringe hanging from the neckline. A multicolored-feather print was made into a jumpsuit, with beading at the bustline.

Ms. Hoffman said her inspiration was a “visionquest in the desert … a spiritual journey into the desert.”

There was a long aqua caftan with red and black zigzags around the edges. A silver bikini was paired with a silver braided headband. Some models wore turbans.

“We always go in an ethnic direction,” the designer explained.

Dina Manzo of the “Real Housewives of New Jersey” said she loved the show and the colors: “I would wear most of it.”


Vitamin A

Designer Amahlia Stevens’ hot-pink tunic cover-up with gold heels showed that a good cut and color is all you need. She also sent models down the runway in silk caftans, crocheted cover-ups and strapless sundresses.

A white-and-gold bikini was paired with gold gladiator sandals. Ms. Stevens used a lot of gold rings contoured to the body to accent the suits as well as gold hardware on the straps of some bathing suit tops.

There were also wraparound bikini tops and even triangle tops. A coral bikini’s bottom had braided sides. The rest of the palette included metallics, emerald, pink, jade and ultraviolet. Ms. Stevens said she used late 1960s style icons such as Marisa Berenson and Lauren Hutton as inspirations, as well as a trip to islands in southern Norway.

She described her line as “understated glamour, but functional.”


Cia.Maritima

The blue-and-white Grecian seascape, along with the drapery of Madeleine Vionnet and Gianni Versace’s medusa gold embellishments, were among the inspirations for the collection by Renny Rosset, but he didn’t want to be too literal, either. “It’s not a copy. It’s an inspiration,” Mr. Rosset said.

The suits had more coverage than usual.

“What I think is to be sexy, you don’t have to be naked. You can be sexy, but not vulgar,” he said.

A one-piece had a print resembling fish scales; another was made up of images of belts. There was one with a geometric square shape that evoked the design of Greek jewelry, and a bronze one-piece had a Versace-like coin on it. There was also a lot of goddess-style drapery, from an aqua minidress to a one-shouldered cream dress.


Red Carter

Red Carter dubbed his eponymous collection “Rock and Roll Space Hookers Circa 1984.”

“I know it’s cheeky and naughty,” he said.

There was an exotic look, with black, pink and gray animal prints and rock ‘n’ roll suits that had studs, cutouts and splicing. A black bikini had a studded skirt, and a white one-piece looked like a corset but also had a little skirtlike feature. A model wore a black one-piece with a gold chain connected to it.

And then there was “space,” accomplished with new shapes, such as a white one-piece with jutting shoulders. Models, meanwhile, wore black lipstick and futuristic-looking hairstyles.

“They are not your average swimsuits. It’s spacesuits. I am trying to push the fashion envelope,” Mr. Carter said.

A black cutout had two gold circles on the breast area and gold at the bottom. There was also the red one-piece paired with a black belt that had a thunderbolt one each side of the buckle.


Aqua Di Lara

Strategic cutouts reigned at Aqua Di Lara. A blue suit was held together by silver hardware. There was a purple-and-white, high-waisted bikini, and a suit that appeared as a bikini in the front was connected by bands in the back.

Another had a giant hole in the stomach area, but it’s back was intact.

There was also a long, colorful dot-print cover-up, open in the back, that was reminiscent of Gianni Versace.

Designer Reyhan Sofraci favored black-and-white geometric patterns. A white bikini was accented with a small replica of a boat’s steering hanging off of it. A black one-piece with transparent material was covered with opaque black in the breast and bottom. A black-and-white monokini was held together by triangles of material.

“I love graphic prints and graphic cuts,” the designer said. “Usually I get very inspired by lingerie, evening wear and shoes.”


Ed Hardy

The Ed Hardy show was pure rock ‘n’ roll, and to prove it, the models walked down the runway with teased and braided hair — a cross between Gwen Stefani and Lady Gaga.

One suit had a floral print on a turquoise background with three pink straps with gold studs. A black bikini had a white skull and red hearts. Of course, there was a lot of hot pink, studs and shimmering embellishments, too.

Strategically placed tigers also spiced up the suits.


Paola Robba

Paola Robba, who designs an eponymous line and the Poko Pano label, mixed the collections on the catwalk. For Paola Robba, she used a lot of graphics — black, white, red, pink and leopard print, for example — while Poko Pano is more about the Brazilian lifestyle, so there were more plant and flower motifs.

One model went down the runway in a striped red-and-white bandeau top and a chili-pepper pattern on her Poko Pano bottoms. There was also a solid red twist bandeau paired with a bottom that had hardware detail.

There was a white one-piece Paola Robba with a draped top, as well as a black bandeau bikini with high-waisted bottoms. A velour bandeau bikini had tassels on the sides of the bottom.

Film director Michael Bay, who said he has a home in Miami, was in the audience for Ms. Robba’s show. He said it was the second fashion show he had been to in his life.

His review: “I thought it was great.”


ANK by Mirla Sabino

The 2010 cruise collection of ANK by Mirla Sabino was influenced by the indigenous Kuna Indians in Panama and their applique-style mola textiles. One model wore a one-shoulder cover-up in a burgundy print, while another had on a black bikini with aqua braiding.

There were lots of geometric designs, expressed in colors such as burgundy, orange, pink, black and white. Ms. Sabino also sent out a gray one-piece with material twisted across one shoulder. Suits were embellished with jewelry and stones.


True Religion

Best known for its jeans, True Religion featured denim in its “swim” show.

But animal prints, including zebras and leopards, as well as tie-dyes also got their due.

Some swimsuits were studded, while others shimmered. There was a zebra-print (over a subtle tie-dye!) gray bikini paired with white jean shorts. Also, a black bikini was embellished with two bands of studs on the bottoms. Another bikini’s top looked like a jeans vest, and it was paired with red-and-white plaid bottoms.

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