Special Review by Agata Mayer, Editor-in-chief
Who wants to join me in the most popular vacation spot that offers you the trendy nightlife of South Beach, the bustle of Calle Ocho, the highly caffeinated energy of Little Havana, boat shows, car racing taken straight out of the popular video games?
„Party in the city where the heat is on, all night on the beach till the break of dawn“ – Welcome to Miami, a major center and leader in culture, media, entertainment, the arts and the hottest event – Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Swim!
MBFWSwim celebrates the sexiest swimwear designs in the world each year at The Raleigh – a South Beach landmark and one of Miami’s most popular and exclusive hotel properties. And this summer, MBFWSwim celebrated its 10 years.
It was obvious that Miami, a place with summer all year around, would be the ideal choice for the swimsuit industry’s biggest event of the year. While it is all about the clothes at any fashion show, this is for sure the fashion event with the least amount of clothes.
It is also good to underline here, that Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Miami (that works together with New York Fashion Week) should not be confused with Miami Fashion Week. The fashion community exactly knows the difference and the fact that the most prestigious of the dozens of international fashion weeks, are the one’s sponsored by Mercedes-Benz.
Miami Beach’s club, venues, the chicest bars around the city are always packed with the jet-set crew of sexy, “Beach Bunny” models such as Irina Shayk, editors – sitting and chatting about the latest industry gossip, famous designers, DJ’s and photographers – trying to snap pictures of the very best dressed. The lobbies and surrounding pool areas are packed with cool brands and swimsuit models. Miami fashion parties are notoriously exclusive, mostly for people with VIP status in the fashion world. Looking at this or hearing about this you have an irresistible impression that Miami never sleeps, neither its inhabitants. Everything seems to be so easy-coming, clear sailing – Fashionistas‘ True Heaven on Earth!
I caught up with Ria Michelle, an amazing style blogger, fashion stylist, CEO at Filthy Magic boutique, an eye witness of Miami’s fashion shows, asking about her point of view.
Ria Michelle at MBFWSwim Miami, photos by Ryan Chua
Agata Mayer: Your opinion about the ‘Business of Fashion Week’ in general. Pros and cons.
Ria Michelle: As a blogger obviously my views are different. I’m so happy to be invited to Fashion Week. It’s very different to see the shows in person, the vibe, the soundtrack, the intoxicating way the clothing flutters down the runway. None of that is replicated in photos and not even in video. They usually swap out the music. It’s so strange. When the lights dim and the music starts and that first model stalks out onto the runway, it’s very powerful. You’re in the designer’s headspace in that moment. You see things that may never be produced which can sometimes be a bad thing (laugh). If it’s a presentation, you get to see everything so close. You can ask the model to move for you, you notice every detail. There’s time to take it all in. I love presentations. Downside, fashion week is kind of a circus. There are so many people just trying to be there, get that check in, get photographed whatever. It’s distracting. Sometimes you wonder is this still about the clothing.
A.M. What was the inspiration behind this edition? Any noticeable impacts or influences?
R.M. Clean. It seemed everyone wanted to do a pared down, very natural look.
The thing that stood out the most was the beauty that was very simplified.
A.M. What trends do you tip to be big this summer (concerns Miami) and winter (concerns Europe)?
R.M. Gingham seems to be a big trend popping up on everything from crop tops, to skirts, coats, etc. Everything is up for grabs with this print. High slits leading to lots of exposed thigh, which I’m totally here for. For winter, oversized coats, very robe and poncho like styles. Basically a blanket situation and you’re all set (laugh). Shades of gray and a kind of olive military green are major color players as well.
A.M. How did you get into fashion and styling?
R.M. I tried my hand at modeling, as I was quite thin when I was younger. Eventually I realized I wasn’t very good at it. A friend of mine also came to the same realization. She decided to try her hand at makeup instead. So to build a portfolio she needed to shoot, she asked me to style her shoot. The rest is history.
A.M. What’s the best part of your job?
R.M. The best part of my job for me is the sheer amount of time I get to spend doing what I want to do. Whether that be sitting on the internet for hours or playing with clothing or beauty products. I also really enjoy working with brands I love. It’s really quite brilliant to receive an email from a brand you admire, and they’re asking to work with you.
A.M. Any downsides?
R.M. Downsides are it can be extremely overwhelming if you’re a one woman show like myself. Everyone wants something, your time, your work and a lot of people want it for free. Exposure doesn’t pay the bills. For me this is a full time gig so if you’re not hustling for your next gig there could be trouble.
A.M. What has been the biggest highlight of your career so far?
R.M. Working with bebe and Levi’s. Levi’s flew a crew to my home and filmed me in various places in town and I got to talk about what inspires me and how I live for a challenge. It was the first time I was really on video in that kind of open capacity. Video is nerve wracking for me. I also really enjoyed filming a video for bebe. I grew up with my mom shopping bebe, so it’s cool to work and be accepted by a brand she loved. They flew me to NYC along with other amazing blogger ladies and we all had a girl’s night out that just happened to be filmed.
A.M. Who are the designers, locally and internationally, that you really admire or are inspired by most?
R.M. I really love Alexander Wang, Saint Laurent, Acne, Givenchy…I’m really into that kind of downtown gritty but clean and luxe aesthetic at the moment.
A.M. Who are your style icons?
R.M. I’ve generally shied away from having icons. When you put someone up on a pedestal you give them the ability to disappoint you. I really like Rihanna and Abbey Lee Kershaw’s style though.
A.M. Your favorite fashion stores in the States?
R.M. I’m a big online shopper. So I frequent Net-A-Porter. I love Intermix both in store and online. Shopbop. Urban Outfitters. Barney’s is AMAZING.
A.M. Looking at your achievements so far, I can say without hesitation that you have found an amazing way to earn a living and have created a job based on creativity. Any tips for those who want to get into the industry?
R.M. Stay true to yourself, set a standard of quality for your work. You don’t owe anyone anything.
A.M. In all these years of doing your day job what have you learned about motivating people?
R.M. I don’t really set out to motivate anyone. It’s not part of my job description, I mostly focus on keeping myself motivated and going. It’s easy to get distracted or bogged down. I’ve met people that tell me I inspired them and that’s so amazing but I’m out here fighting and learning just like everyone else.
A.M. What are the three hottest pieces in your wardrobe right now?
R.M. I have this tiny little gray tank top I got from a local boutique in Miami called Ohm boutique. It’s perfectly 90s and fits like nothing. A pair of Isabel Marant wedges I scored because of a partnership with an amazing local mall called Sawgrass Mills. Last but never ever least my Chanel Chain Boy Bag. I’ve never seen anyone with one in the states. I picked it up in London last year and it’s just my favorite thing ever.
A.M. Thank you.