- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 20, 2016

With temperatures reaching into 90s, the hottest fashion show of the year has finally arrived — D.C. Swim Week 2016.

Starting Thursday night, the runway at L2 Lounge in Georgetown will feature 12 models wearing designer swimsuits of all shapes and sizes.

Hundreds of spectators are expected to turn out for each show this weekend, with events to be held at the Vida Penthouse Pool Club on Friday at 8 p.m. and the grand finale at the Embassy Row Hotel on Saturday at 8 p.m.

Each night will include not only fashion displays but also art demonstrations and live music.

Former model Oliwia Garaj, vice president and programming director of D.C. Swim Week, says that though the District’s piece of the fashion industry may be little, it is fierce.

“D.C. Swim week has a chance to become a big brand,” Miss Garaj said. “There’s no better place between New York City … and Miami, and we want to bring that Miami vibe to the city and fight for D.C.’s place in fashion.”

D.C. Swim Week is only a year old but has grown quickly to include more than 20 designers from eight countries. All of last year’s shows were sold out, and the event was later featured in an episode of “Real Housewives of Potomac” on Bravo Network. Katie Rost, a model and a celebrity from the reality show, emceed last year’s swim week.

Moh Ducis, president and founder of D.C. Swim Week, is expecting an even larger turnout than last year’s event, and despite the publicity from reality television celebrities, it isn’t TV stars getting people in the door.

“We are inviting a couple of high-profile models to open the show,” Mr. Ducis said. “Nobody has done that in D.C.”

The models — Mariia Baziuk and Kateryna Horbei — will strut in brand-name designers as well as some emerging local designers, like Victor Hou from the District and Bandits Swimwear from Maryland.

“Stephanie from Bandits Swimwear, she is really answering the need of the markets and I think she is really ready to hit the road,” said Miss Garaj. “If you are looking for some stars, I think she will be one.”

Stephanie Meni, a 27-year-old Maryland native, launched Bandits Swimwear online in March, and this weekend is her first ever fashion show.

“It’s been my dream,” Miss Meni said. “This is super exciting to see my clothes on live bodies walk down the runway.”

Headlining international designers include Banana Moon from France, Livia Monte Carlo from France, and Agua de Coco from Brazil. U.S. designers include Vizcaya (the official swimsuit sponsor for the Miss USA Pageant), Universal Gear, Koko D. and more.

Attendees can expect to get a glimpse of the latest swimwear trends, like one-shoulder and off-the-shoulder tops, keyholes and cutouts, high-necked tops and — a flash from the past — Baywatch suits, or swimwear that is high cut around the pelvis.

“Hips are officially the new cleavage,” one D.C. Swim Week blogger wrote.

Though trends will abound on the runway, don’t expect to see the same suits you’d get at a department store. The point of this event, Miss Garaj said, is to see something new.

“We are sick of buying swimwear at Macy’s or Nordstrom’s,” said Miss Garaj. “You’ll see … the unique clips or zippers on their designs that usually you don’t expect on swimwear.”

Tickets for the events are on sale at DCswimweek.com start at $30.

• Emma Patton can be reached at epatton@washingtontimes.com.

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