Local designer Pangea Kali Virga thinks there isn’t enough talk about fashion in Miami. “There’s so much discussion around the art industry, which is incredible and I’m all about it," she says, "but I don’t think that kind of openness exists in the same way in the fashion industry.”
Virga plans to change that with the inaugural Miami on Sight, a fashion show she hopes will “start a more public communal dialogue about the local fashion industry,” she says.
“As a designer myself, I do understand how difficult it is to showcase your work to the public and to forge that connection with the community,” Virga says. The designer moved to Miami from New York City last year and has previous experience putting on fashion shows. But although she's a recent transplant, Miami will be front and center at the show. “All of the designers we’ll be showcasing are local and based in South Florida,” she explains. “We really want to highlight all the unique sides of Miami... and all the reasons why we love this city so much.”
Designers who will show their work include Lisu Vega, Sea Jasper, Carl Pierre, Ana Maria Dalessio, and Raynelle Chapman. The one-day event is free and will be hosted by New Times' 2019 Best Drag Performer, Queef Latina. The local funk band Sol + the Tribu — whose members are fashion risk-takers in their own right — will perform. Although the event is free and open to the public, a few VIP seats will be sold; their proceeds will go directly to Habitat for Humanity.
Virga also aims to make Miami on Sight a more inclusive show by inviting models of all shapes, sizes, and backgrounds to walk the runway. “It has become more of a normal thing to see all sorts of body types at fashion shows, and we need to help to keep that the standard in the industry, especially in Miami.”
She adds that “we need to prove to people that beauty isn’t just one body type” and hopes audience members will be able to see themselves represented on the runway. “If we get a more diverse group of models, the public [will] be able to vibe with it in a different way [than] if it were just a bunch of tall, thin people.”
Virga hopes to make Miami on Sight an annual occurrence with a different theme each year. For the inaugural show, organizers opted to shine a light on sustainable fashion.
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“The core for each event will always be community and highlighting local talent,” Virga says, “but we want the themes to be reflective of the city.” Sustainability, she says, is a topic that needs discussion by not only the fashion industry but also all of Miami, where the effects of climate change become more apparent with each passing day.
“As a consumer, making sure that you primarily buy secondhand is really vital,” Virga explains. “When it comes to consumption, we just need to buy less — or buy fewer new things." That statement might seem like a counterintuitive message coming from the organizer of a fashion show, but Virga says the designers showing in the inaugural Miami on Sight have incorporated reusable fashion into their designs. "Some of the designers featured in Miami on Sight have done an amazing job of making new things by incorporating old materials."
Virga says understanding the process behind the creation of the items people consume can change their perspective and habits. For instance, “if you knew how clothes were made, you might buy clothes differently.” Having consumers interact directly with the designers facilitates that process, she says. The ultimate goal of Miami on Sight is “to have the public be able to engage with the designers individually, and I think that’s a really beautiful thing.”
Miami on Sight. 7 to 9 p.m. Sunday, September 29, at Collins Park, 2100 Collins Ave., Miami Beach. Admission is free; RSVP via eventbrite.com.