One thought might have permeated your brain as the final night of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Swim kicked off Monday: “My gosh, I hope the supply of shimmer powder holds out just one more evening.” Seriously, some of these girls have been walking the runway so slicked, gold-flecked and bronzed, the flash of multiple cameras could result in them looking like the glow-in-the-dark aliens from The Abyss.
But nobody should panic; perhaps Vincent Longo (official makeup sponsor of the Mercedes-Benz shows at The Raleigh) had more of its Golden Goddess Deluxe Body Powder air-dropped in, so the models glistened as all swim models in Miami should, and the final night offered up plenty of scintillating options. The key trends that emerged for 2015 (neon, metallics, crochet and lace, rashguards) were much in evidence here, starting with the group show that kicked off the night. Five designers — Mia Marcelle, Sauvage, Aquarella, Toxic Sadie and Aguaclara — pooled their resources to produce a successful (albeit long, at more than 60 looks) show. Among the highlights: Sauvage is always an ultra-sexy line, but designer Elizabeth Southwood still managed to top herself with a fantastic metal-plate bikini top that ranked high on our favorites for the week’s metallics trend, while another trend (neon) was key to Javier Madrigal’s Aquarella collection, as he worked DayGlo tones in colorblocked bikinis and monokinis.
And at Toxic Sadie, designer Erin Thomas proved that high-waisted bottoms can also reveal plenty of skin, as she crafted a look that employed straps where fabric should be, bringing a whole new dynamic to a silhouette that continues to dominate swim conversations.
Alas, the group presentation turned out to be the best of the night, if only because it wasn’t filled with “Wait, what?” kind of moments. If only the same could be said for the two shows that followed, A.Z Araujo and Minimale Animale (I really wanted to like the latter, largely because we all just loved saying the name). First, with respect to the Brazilian-born, New York-based Araujo: It’s not that I don’t appreciate the idea of putting real women on the runway; I embrace that, actually, after looking at what seems like MILES of perfectly-toned model flesh over the course of five days. So please, put all the “regular-sized” and plus-sized women on the runway that you want, I applaud that. What rankles me is when I’m watching pieces that are either poorly done or just have no place on a runway: I can view khaki shorts or white pants on a shirtless guy in a multitude of locales (especially in South Beach), so they’re not of any use on a swim runway, while the same can be said for some leopard pieces that just seemed, shall we say, Kardashian-level cheap. If I sound disappointed, it’s because there were pieces here I really liked, namely some panné-velvet paisley looks, such as a bikini with a high-neck top tied with a bow that looked positively YSL-esque paired with a side-tied bottom, all of which proved some real thought lived in this collection. More in this direction, Mr. Araujo, and we could be really excited.
And then, sigh, Minimale Animale: Girls in moto helmets either topless or in totally sheer triangle tops; that’s my memory of this show from Los Angeles-based designer Cassandra Kellogg. Those photos will play well in Europe, but what I got from it was a plethora of black and white suits, but mainly bottoms, and definitely S&M-driven. I would add “minimalist” as an adjective for the show’s sleek styling, but all those straps on the monokinis firmly sent us into dominatrix territory. Sure, it was titillating (pun intended), but all the love in the world from Sports Illustrated (who has indeed featured suits/bottoms from this label) won’t transfer to major sales.
The night, and the week, closed on a sublime note, however, with some fantastic looks from the Bali-produced Indah line. This Indonesian collection was undeniably sexy, even as it offered a wealth of chic cover-ups featuring maxi dresses in leopard, camel crochet knit or a chic white with cut-outs at the sides. An ultra-bare bikini mixed a teal velvet triangle top with a tiger print bottom, while long fringe descended from a bronze triangle top, dripping onto a tribal-print maxi skirt. Here was a show that combined design and sensuality; it didn’t hit you over the head any less than the previous two shows, but as the week wrapped up, it was a terrific tutorial on how to dress the body well in as few inches of fabric as one might conceive.