By  on August 1, 2005

MIAMI BEACH — Miami Fashion Week of the Americas has a touch of the seven-year itch. Held each year in May, the event to showcase international designers is straying into new territory.

At its most recent effort, Sobol Fashion Productions, the South Florida-based producer of Miami Fashion Week, launched CityStyle, a multicultural lifestyle show of brands such as Reebok, Sean John Collection and Apple Bottoms. Based on the reception to that show, Sobol plans to expand CityStyle to two days next year and to replay Miami Fashion Week shows on giant flat-screen TVs in piazzas of five Italian cities. It also will launch the Miami Moda & Music Awards, a separate, red-carpet awards night during Miami Fashion Week that will be televised with fashion shows and musical performances on NBC Telemundo. Also launching next April is The Evening Show, an after-five women's wear resource event that will take place in New York.

In the U.S., there are only a few hotel events with limited vendors dedicated to the after-five market, according to Beth Sobol, president of Sobol Fashion Productions.

"It's a specific area, but it hasn't been developed yet," she said. "We plan to show many lines from moderate to designer price points and anything else falling under the after-five category,"

Sobol said she's used to covering new ground. "We were the first to organize a fashion week in Miami and the first to put up fashion tents on the beach."

The Miami event has grown from 25 clothing and accessories designers from 14 countries, primarily in Latin America, to 40 designers from 18 countries in Asia, Europe and Latin America. Sobol said there's been more European interest, and two Russian designers participated this year, a first for the country. "Europeans want to reach the Latin American market, so they're coming to Miami," she said.

This year, judges — who included Latin TV personalities and the director of the fashion department at Miami International University of Art & Design — selected Missair, an Argentine leather handbag line, as the winner of the Diamond Award for best accessories. Manish Arora, a designer from India known for colorful, embroidered silk, received the Designer Choice Award. As the special guest and recipient of the Designer of the Year Award, Milan-based Roberta Scarpa closed the event with tailored suits, skirts and jackets in rich fabrics.Designers attended seminars by The Mix Global Color Resource, a color forecasting company in London, and Peclers Paris, a trend forecasting firm in Paris. "It's great to give designers opinions from two worldwide companies," said Sobol, who also introduced them to business practices through a trade attorney, wealth management expert and eveningwear sales representative.

"These designers are really looking to do business in the U.S.," she added.

The next Miami Fashion Week is scheduled for May 6-10, while CityStyle will run May 12-13.

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