Reyes del Runway: Designers to Watch at Miami Fashion Week

Stylistas will descend upon Miami Beach International Fashion Week, which kicks off on March 20. Founded in 1999, the runway extravaganza showcases emerging and established talent from across Latin America and around the world. Here are some of the diseñadoras whose stars are rising.

Paola Peres
Paola Peres, who designs leather accessories, is “nerviosa.” She’s making her debut of her latest collection, Complementos. The pieces include leather clutches, purses, belts and accessories. “Every piece captures all my soul, my feelings,” says Peres, who learned to work with leather while studying in Italy and Argentina. She generates ideas “from colors, textures, scents and even songs. I love to travel and comb the towns looking for inspiration.”

Maria Hamilton
Last year’s winner of the International Emerging Jewelry Designer of the Year award, Maria Hamilton, will also be in attendance, armed with new jewelry. “Winning the award gave me an incentive to do more; it pushed me to design high-end pieces.” With her new collection, she says, “I focused on big pieces and made earrings with precious stones.” Hamilton, who worked in finance for seven years, recalls how she made the switch. “Wherever I went, people stopped to ask where I got my jewelry, which I had made,” she says, laughing. “It was my hobby.” After a year of jewelry-making classes at a local museum, things became clear: “I wanted to do this full-time. I love this.”

Liliana Montoya
Before becoming a beachwear designer, Colombiana Liliana Montoya was a modelo and a television presenter. Growing up in Medellin, Montoya loved sports and staying in shape. It’s no wonder that by 2006, the 5-foot-11-inch stunner had launched High Swimwear, a line of upscale bathing suits. “The brand is based on the evolution of the bikini,” Montoya says of her reinterpretation of the bikini, which once was worn “for athletic purposes.” Today, she also makes one-piece swimsuits, and she infuses every ensemble with a fresh femininity, a lot of bright colors and bold prints.

by Julie D. Andrews