Image by: Henry Flores
This past week Collins Avenue was transformed into a runway used by fashion enthusiasts from around the world. High heels and Italian loafers pranced back and forth between fabulous parties, private showings, and exclusive swim shows. Champagne flowed abundantly as flutes nestled between fingers decked out with jewels. Expensive perfumes crowded the air like L.A smog, while designer fabrics brushed passed each other in a hurry to stand in line for assigned seating. This here darling is where you can find the bougiest of the bougie. Welcome to The 2018 Miami Swim Week, I am Nadirah Naima and I will be your tour guide. It is imperative that I am extremely honest with you about my experience, so with that being said, Swim Week came with some good, some bad, and some ugly! Let’s start with the good, shall we?
Gigi C Bikini’s designer Gigi Caruso made swim week history by being the youngest designer (18 years old) to show in Miami Swim Week. Her luxury swimwear resort and spring 2019 collection featured laser cut out details on bold colored bikinis, as well architectural shapes fused with clean lines. It was quite refreshing to see such a young girl create such a big buzz. We were able to head over to The beautiful Faena Hotel to get an exclusive look at the Tropic of C’s resort 2019 collection. With their minimalistic 90’s style bathing suits made of suede and other soft materials, its no wonder that celebrities like Bella Hadid wear this brand when they decide to make a splash in lavish pools and private beaches. Aguaclara’s swim show gave me Japanese zen garden vibes. There was a bamboo rainforest video backdrop that created the perfect ambiance. The designer seemed to really favor the colors white and gold, as they were both heavily used. Draped mesh cover-ups floated down the runway on models with flowing locks resembling mermaids caught in a fisher’s net… a glamorous fisher’s net that is.
The best loungewear and one-piece bathing suits, in my opinion, would have to be those shown at the Sinesia Karol show. I was looking for more unique and luxurious styles that didn’t expose too much skin but instead accentuated a woman’s more modest features. Sinesia Karol was able to give me a little of that. The Sports Illustrated runway show was the absolute best show of them all. Prosthetic legs, thick thighs with cellulite and breastfeeding mamas owned the runway. Sports Illustrated allowed 16 gorgeous models of different ethnicities and body types to strut their stuff and show the world that all woman have the right to enjoy being sexy and confident. The theme song should have been Chaka Khan’s “Every Woman”, but we were pleasantly surprised with a lovely performance by Justine Skye. Her dancehall infused melodies matched perfectly with the tropical poolside aesthetic. Although the designers differed in many ways they also all had one thing in common; A LIMITED AMOUNT OF BLACK MODELS.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we have concluded our journey through ‘the good” and this is the part of the article where we venture into “THE BAD”.
This Is the second year I have attended Swim Week and I have seen no improvement in the involvement of black models or black designers. Its almost as if each designer had a limit of two black models per show and black designers were just completely absent. At first, I thought I was trippin’ but then I came across this video on Facebook of two models (Kacey Legget @kalbarbie and Joia Talbott @joiajohn) speaking out about the discrimination they faced when standing in line to audition for KYA Swim. Apparently, a group of African American women was told that the audition was closed when they arrived and then when they proceeded to leave the audition miraculously opened back up and began accepting white models. KYA Swim has spoken out and they are basically blaming everything on the production company Funkshion and Funkshion is blaming it on KYA Swim. Miami is a city with an enormous Afro Caribbean and African American influence, so for a company to come down here and basically discriminate against people who look like the majority of the natives, is not only an insult to blacks but also an insult to the culture of Miami. There is a lot of work that needs to be done in the fashion industry when it comes to diversity and inclusion. However, I do believe us as blacks must become more innovative. If we are not welcomed somewhere and we continue to get snubbed at functions of this sort, then it is our responsibility to build our own. We do not have to abide by standards set by the very people who do not appreciate our natural beauty, but love to take out natural features, put it on other bodies and call it their own.
Speaking of which we have now approached “THE UGLY”! Silvia Ulson (Brazilian designer aka Culture Vulture) thought it would be a bright idea to steal an entire design from another line and dress it up as her own. People were horrified when pictures of models in dashiki print bathing suits resembling those of another brand called Bfnye were accessorized with Native American feathered headdresses. She now claims that these designs were sold to her by a man named Fernando and that they were supposed to represent Native American Brazilian culture. I'm honestly not buying it, it's 2018 how could you be that negligent and not do your research? I believe her and a lot of others believe that our culture is for sale. The fashion and entertainment industry continually mock and belittle the things that are unique to us, only to strip us of what is ours and then turn around and put a price tag on it. I'm over it. We all should be over this perpetual cycle of whitewashing. There are numerous amounts of black swimwear designers out there…where were they last week? We deserve more representation.
The first bikini was made in France by a man named Louis Reard. The design came about because of a lack of material. On July 5th the bikini turned 72 years old. Not much has changed in swim design since then. More originality and daring approaches are necessary within this category of fashion. To be feminine and sexy does not mean you have to show as much skin as possible. I would love to see a modest but stylish swimsuit on the runway for those women out there who want to go swimming without baring it all. Overall The 2018 Swim Week could have been a lot more pioneering and original. I am definitely looking forward to more innovative and creative designs next year.