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Sunny Miami Fashion

by Amelia Gray
Fashion Career Center Columnist

Far away from image-obsessed California and chilly New York, Florida is miles from the typical fashion trends.

Across the state, Floridians buck fashion?s strictest rules. Diners in Miami?s most exclusive restaurants showcase their pedicured toenails in jeweled flip-flops. A black-tie affair for Florida?s elite means khaki pants and sunglasses.

In a state where the perfect bathing suit is more essential than the little black dress, students in fashion design school find themselves with the substantial challenge of raising casual clothing to an innovative level of beauty. Meeting this challenge can make a career--just ask Esteban Cortazar.

Florida?s Fashion Prodigy
At twenty, Esteban Cortazar had just finished high school. That fall, he celebrated by presenting his fifth major show at New York?s Fashion Week. For Cortazar, Miami has been a source of inspiration and an intense cultural shift from his native Colombia. "Coming to Miami was a culture shock," he told NPR. "I saw designers, I saw fashionistas, I saw so many things."

For students in Florida's many fashion design schools, Cortazar's clothes might seem emblematic of the fashion typical to the Sunshine State. His Spring 2006 collection combined bright colors and bright floral designs with the kind of light fabric that perfectly catches a beach breeze. Cortazar's designs have been such a success that they brought Cindy Crawford out of retirement and onto the runway in 2003, showing off a dress he made entirely from a Swarovski Crystal mesh.

Design in Paradise
It's no surprise that Cortazar, who remains the youngest designer ever to have shown at New York's prestigious Fashion Week, calls Miami his home. Miami is the flagship city of a state that defies convention, where fashion design school students can hit the South Beach to window shop at Nicole Miller, Club Monaco, Kenneth Cole, and Ritchie Swimwear. A hip tourism culture drives this city, and Miami's breezy, relaxed fashions reflect that attitude.

Designers and fashion houses from around the world are attracted to Miami, a growing city that constantly reinvents itself within the fashion community. In a city that goes from bikinis to evening gowns in the course of an afternoon, it's no surprise that the city is a center of inventive couture.

About the Author
Amelia Gray is a teacher and freelance writer in San Marcos, TX. Amelia earned a Bachelor?s Degree in English Literature from Arizona State University.

Sources
NPR: Esteban Cortazar
Cortazar Web site
South Beach Information