By  on August 1, 2005

MIAMI BEACH — Hoping to capture some of the buzz from IMG's swim event, the Independent Fashion Trade Show premiered here last month. Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation and MAC, among others, sponsored the two-day event at the trendy Sanctuary Hotel. The property's lush, open courtyard, intimate suites, restaurant and spa set it apart from typical trade show venues.

"It's sort of like the ‘-scope' art fair for the fashion realm," said co-founder Karelle Levy, who also designs and owns the edgy knitwear lines Krel and Krelwear in Miami. (The -scope fair features emerging artists and is held in various hotels around the country in such cities as New York, Miami, Los Angeles and the Hamptons on Long Island.)

More than 20 Miami-based contemporary clothing and accessories designers, ranging from established brands like Eberjey lingerie to avant-garde upstarts like Cardiac, were among the 500 attendees. Bonnie Engelstein, who shops New York and Los Angeles shows with similar directions as the owner of Chroma boutique in Miami Beach, said it reminded her of a small D&A.

"For a first show, it's so elegant and well done. Other retailers and vendors should travel here for it," she said. Engelstein ordered Cardiac's one-of-a-kind dresses and skirts in mixed media, tops decorated with Rorschach ink blots and madras Bermuda shorts with a punk flair. The line, selected for Gen Art Miami's "Fresh Faces in Fashion" show in 2005, wholesales from $37 to $950.

Theresa Turchin, designer of Raiza clothing and accessories, with 55 U.S. accounts, said she received a lot of press interest, including a TV spot on the local ABC affiliate. "I'll definitely participate next time," she said, wearing her garden dress in paisley cotton with a pom-pom-embellished bodice for $155 wholesale from the spring 2006 collection.

Citrine by the Stones, a jewelry company, introduced its "Coins of the World" collection of distressed metals mixed with garnet, citrine or smoky topaz. Bestsellers were a convertible belt and necklace, and cuffs or bangles with dangling coins. Designer Michelle Stone, who participates in multiple North American markets such as Accessories Circuit and the Pool show, said she opened six new local accounts. "This show is worth the information exchange alone for Miami designers," said Stone.Levy and partner Paulina Orrego plan to produce three shows annually in conjunction with other fashion events, such as Funkshion: Fashion Week Miami Beach, in October, or Trafik Tradeshow, which makes its Miami debut next March.

"Designers including Lazaro Hernandez from Proenza Schouler and Esteban Cortazar are from Miami. We want the fashion industry to know there's even more talent here," Levy said.

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