Walking on Sunshine

Once again, Miami International University of Art & Design partnered with Paraiso to present their student's innovative swimwear during Miami Swimweek 2022.
photographer: SIMON SOONG
Fashion Department Chair, Oscar Lopez, has worked hard to foster and grow this critical relationship, “For the past five years, we have been working with Paraiso swim week, which is an incredible opportunity for the students.” This year both students and selected graduates had the chance to dazzle the public and the attending fashion industry. MIU takes pride in leading trends instead of just following them, and at Swim Week, they made a compelling case for elegance, playfulness, and mischievous allure in swimwear. Carolina Rinchere, who won the Overall Design Award, opened the show. She presented a black bandeau bikini top and a high-cut bottom paired with a stunning coverup comprised of ruffled black sleeves and a transparent cape with a golden sheen embroidered with shimmering black florals. This look evoked a sensual evening at a glittering hotel pool party with bubbly drinks flowing.
Taylor Crosley, who won the Avessa Editorial Award, presented a strappy navy blue bikini matched with a bronze metallic cover-up. The cover-up’s top had imaginative cutouts that allowed a beguiling amount of decolletage but maintained a demure mandarin neckline and short princess sleeves. The look is effortlessly completed with a low-slung mermaid skirt fitted close to the hips in the same shimmering bronze fabric with a hint of copper weaving through. There was a pair of swimwear displayed by Gustavo Cadile that also epitomized the glamorous loungewear trend. One model wore a lovely black bikini with a high-waisted bottom and a head-turning black transparent maxi coverup. The coverup had a beautiful, ruffled collar in gauzy fabric dusted throughout with demure polka-dots and black feathers trimming the bottom of the garment. The second model wore a black high-cut string bikini bottom with a sexily intriguing sheer cover-up shown in place of a bikini top. The coverup used the same transparent black gauze but now with a sparkling lace turtleneck and stripes of lace in a diamond pattern. The sleeves were full-length and layered in additional black gauze.
The MIU runway also highlighted other trend-setting designs with sophisticated yet spirited colors and impeccable tailoring, which elevated the clothes from being simple swimwear that is seen simply getting wet and sandy on the beach. Pedro Melendez presented a pair of one-piece color-blocked swimwear in a beautiful palette of juicy peach, tan, white and black. The suits were enormously playful and elegant. One pair was an athletic body suit with tasteful shorts whose colors were ingeniously arranged to hint at a peach bikini layered on top. You could see this outfit easily worn at the beach or on a sun-kissed lush waterfront with many shops and restaurants surrounded by palms and candy-colored tropical flowers. A crowd favorite was Katherine Molina’s lime green bikini. It was a stunning, sculpted outfit that played with the imagery of sea chains used to control or block navigation across a body of water. The top had a portrait neckline garnished with thick chains made of the same fabric with buttons on the side. Instead of strings, the high-cut bikini bottom again uses the imagery of wide chain links. Katherine’s outfit was daring in its silhouette and sheer joy.
Gregory Flesh, who won the Menswear Award, provided a pair of men’s swim trunks in eye-catching vibrant colors that remained complimentary with each other and their accessories. Gregory had fun with his designs, but they were beautifully tailored and fitted. Climbing, a very tough sport, inspired his work, yet he was still successful in creating elegant clothes. The first design had longer board shorts in a coral color that reminded us of azaleas and black mesh side pockets. These shorts were paired with a turquoise climbing harness, golden yellow rope, and carabiners. The second pair of shorts were slightly shorter, with the same yellow gold but this time in a trim belt and harness. It was cheekily paired with a coral-colored yoga mat. A men’s look that also harkened to the early 20th century was Natasha Tabunova’s men’s swimsuit. It clearly references the infamous one-piece men’s bathing suit worn close to a century ago. Natasha’s design was a unitard with a deep-cut tank top and snug-fitting pair of shorts. The brilliant fabric had different width stripes in lemony yellow, navy blue, white, and Kelly green. Although beautifully cut with brilliant colors, what stood out were the frond-shaped cutouts along the side of the suit. This swimsuit evoked imaginative sea plants and old glamor, but at the same time, it was racy, beautiful, and unique.
Cuban-born Alejandro Barzaga won the Avant-Garde Award with his eye-popping, gorgeous unitard with long sleeves and legs. It was paired with an exquisitely tailored coat that pooled behind the model. Alejandro is, at heart, a pure artist, and he custom-created the red and white fabric for his design. This piece was created to elongate the body and was daringly skintight with a demure semi-turtleneck. The coat was equally eye-catching but cut to enhance grace and drama. One of Alejandro’s ancestors was from the Yucatan peninsula and inhabited for at least 7,000 years by the Mayan indigenous people. The Yucatec language spoken by the Mayan Empire was documented in the ancient hieroglyphs of several Pre-Columbian archaeological sites. One can imagine this mesmerizing swimwear worn by a Mayan priestess or noble as she walked from the verdant emerald-green rainforests and mangroves into the brilliant blue Gulf of Mexico. MIU students and grads provided a unique runway highlighting existing swimwear trends and pushing the boundaries to offer outstanding, never-boring swim and resort wear. Everyone at MIU was grateful for this opportunity and recognized the prospects for additional success. As Alejandro Barzaga stated: “For us, this is a great opportunity because we are going to present our work in the industry where almost every single brand is going to be there.”