Local designer Elnaz Torabi blends art and fashion with hand-painted detail.
Local designer Elnaz Torabi blends art and fashion with hand-painted detail.
Courtesy of MIU

Five Emerging Designers to Watch at Miami Swim Week

Swim Week is once again descending to the shores of Miami Beach, and along with it reported thousands of industry professionals eager to spot next year's swimwear trends. While major brands like Maaji and Agua de Coco may be stealing most of the limelight, there's a batch of homegrown talent showcasing new designs to kick off the week's festivities.

The Miami International University of Art and Design will host its annual fashion show on Thursday, highlighting work from some of its most talented students. The university, which has a 50-year history of churning out notable Miami fashion designers like Rene Ruiz and Julian Chang, attracts impressive global talent, with many budding designers hailing from Latin America and farther-flung destinations like Saudi Arabia.

"Each year, we challenge our students to come up with designs that they think project the upcoming year's swimwear trends," says Charlene Parsons, a long-time professor at the university. According to MIU students, next year's summer looks will mix edgy, skin-baring garments, braided details, and eyelet fabrics packing plenty of color and personality – and New Times got a sneak peek into what they'll be presenting at Thursday's event. Here, we've rounded up our favorite designers so you can keep a close watch on the runway – and in stores.

Cristian Cruz. Hailing from Colombia, Cruz is taking a risk with menswear designs that bare quite a bit of skin, and it's worth the reward. Cruz's racy clear-vinyl pants are structurally a nod to the 1980s, while his fabric choice makes the design feel current. Paired with a printed graphic jacket with a surprise detail on the back, this edgier look is for the discerning dresser eager to make waves.

Vania Zelaya. Peruvian designer Zelaya confirms that bomber jackets are a popular menswear trend, and her sporty-meets-sophisticated rendition is paired with tribal pants for an unusual power clash. The bone jacket, made of leather with laser-cut details and red trim, is a fresh take on a trendy item. Paired with colorful, printed Aztec shorts, the look is minimalist while retaining a playful whimsy.

Gulliana Barraca. Also hailing from Peru, Barraca takes a similar approach to Zelaya with a sporty laser-cut fabric that's color blocked for maximum impact. She'll send a black-and-blue suit down the runway that offers a streamlined aesthetic with racier detailing, like a well-placed cut-out and a cheeky overlay that highlights just enough skin.

Elnaz Torabi. Blending art and fashion, Torabi hand-painted an illustration on her elegant one-piece suit, which is likely inspired by her Iranian roots. Braided trim outlines the suit's romantic silhouette, which features nude draped sleeves that just barely reveal the model's shoulders. An homage to the lofty style of fashion illustration, Torabi's hand-painted artwork showcases a woman with a loose bun, a lighthearted touch on an otherwise racy swimsuit.

Rasha Alrefi. Easily the most romantic look on the runway, Rasha Alrefi's design is an interesting take on swimwear. Rather than baring all, the Saudi designer blends chain-metal details with an airy powder blue and white chiffon skirt. The retro silhouette allows for just a peek of a high-waisted bikini bottom.

MIU Fashion Show. At the Paraiso Fashion Fair. 1 p.m. Thursday, July 12; at 2100 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 305-428-5839; paraisofashionfair.com Tickets cost $25, or $10 for students.

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