A personal account of Miami’s evolving art, architecture and fashion design scene.
I have watched Miami evolve to become the culturally rich international metropolis it is today.
I could almost say I am a native having moved to Fort Lauderdale as a young child in 1976. My upbringing was not atypical for South Florida having a Colombian entrepreneurial hardworking immigrant mother married to a refined, fashionable, well-educated Jewish New Yorker. When I was born, my mother sprinkled a touch of Cuban flavor to my identity by naming me after a Cuban refugee/immigrant friend who was named after “el grito de Yara.”
I was especially influenced by my stepfather, an accomplished anesthesiologist, who understood fine dining, traveled the world, dressed beautifully, and collected art. My mother had her own natural, authentic style to add.
What sets apart South Floridians, including my family, is their own particular way of enjoying and celebrating culture. I think it also has to do a lot with an immigrant or transplant mentality where you can reinvent yourself and raise your passion another notch. It is magical city and indeed a melting pot for self-discovery where bold, creative, colorful expression is encouraged.
I studied ARCHITECTURE at University of Miami at a time where Miami Beach was just beginning its transformation into what it is today. As the 1990s moved along, the conservation of the historic art deco architectural style was crucial to Miami Beach’s development and unique identity. The many hues of pinks, blues, reds, greens, yellows, purples and so on were fervently revived. Today these colors are an influence on my designs.
Local architecture firms such as Arquitectonica embraced the tradition of Miami’s colorful architectural legacy. One of my all time favorites is the The Pink House by Laurinda Spear.
How fantastic to live in a flamingo pink home with a row of royal palm trees on the blue green expansive bay! Only in Miami. Below is a picture of this house from an early Arquitectonica book published in 1991 autographed for me by its principal Peruvian immigrant Bernardo Fort-Brescia.
Like many locals in the late 1980s, I was glued to the television on Thursday nights watching Miami Vice fabulously showcase Brickell Avenue’s iconic colorful Arquitectonica buildings. After earning my Bachelor of Architecture, I interned at Arquitectonica along with others from around the world. It was especially insightful to see Laurinda and Bernardo’s gutsy experimentation with colors, unusual shapes and textures.
Miami’s architectural landscape has since been taken to a new level of sophistication by international super stars such as Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, Herzog & de Meuron and Rem Koolhaus. Moreover, Miami has its own exceptional homegrown talent such as Touzet Studio, Kobi Karp, Jaya Kader, Rene Gonzales, Chad Oppenheim, Shulman and Studio X to name just a few.
Meanwhile, the ART scene also matured. I began studying art history in high school and have never stopped. I was influenced at a young age by my stepfather who was then a sophisticated art collector with pieces from Matta, Rosenquist, Miro, Wilfredo Lam, Elrod, Cocteau, Jenkins and many others. He and my mother encouraged me to travel and study art in summer abroad programs. In those days, the art scene in South Florida was more of a spill over from New York. I don’t need to mention how Miami has become an epicenter hosting one of the largest art fairs in the world. What is most impressive though is how the Miami community now supports artists locally and internationally.
What goes with architecture and art? FASHION
It follows that the Miami fashion design arena is now coming into its own.
Two weeks ago, I attended Miami Fashion Week which recently received the coveted stamp of approval by the Council of Fashion Designers of America, Inc. (CFDA). That alone is quite an achievement. Honorary president Antonio Banderas aptly explained Miami’s foray into the international world of fashion. Renowned international designers such as Silvia Tcherassi, Naeem Khan, Eberjey, Adriana Degreas, and Rene Ruiz to name just a few, have chosen Miami as the city for their flagship representation.
New local educational programs and incentives in fashion have also emerged in recent years with the Fashion Institute at Miami Dade College leading the pack. With the local fashion design industry brewing, new talent will unquestionably be capitalized upon.
Nowhere else in United States is there such an enthusiastic commitment to the development of a city’s own unique creative expression.
I believe that the mark of a truly great city is when it wisely invests in its own talent, and I am thrilled to be a part of Miami’s inspiring and aspiring fashion scene as an up and coming handbag designer.
The fabulous Pink House by Laurina Spear
Above picture taken from this early Arquitectonica book
Where I interned for one year.... autographed by Bernardo Fort-Brescia
Acknowledgments... a wonderful experience, indeed....