Photos by Robyn Ross
For a city where 12.6 million visitors come to vacation every year, Miami residents have a tendency to complain about their hometown. “The city is too superficial,” “it’s hard to foster community due to its transient nature (Miami being a major entry point from Latin America, Europe and many other parts of the world), and “it’s hard to find a significant other,” are some favorites. I have to admit I’ve chimed in over the years, and it’s true I have lost dear friends to cities like New York, San Francisco and Chicago, Miami serving as a time and place for them to blow off steam before graduating to more “substantial” cities. But in the end, I love Miami Beach and the Greater Miami area. Like any great American city, Miami has its own unique and spicy character. There simply had to be a Miami to round out the country: conservative Boston, bustling New York, activist-crazy San Francisco (sorry Stylenik!). In Miami people just want to have fun, both historically and at this moment in time. And if you know where to look, there’s a strong sense of pride and community. So I’m standing behind Miami with a resounding vote of approval. This is my city, where I was born and where I live.
So now I’ll get down from my soapbox and discuss what we’re really here for: Miami Fashion Week! I went to the Raleigh on Monday, the last day of the five-day event, to catch some of the final shows and take in the vibe of the famed 1940s hotel. After some exciting shows throughout the weekend, including Mara Hoffman, Norma Kamali, and Shay Todd, I wanted to see the fashion week crowd doing what we Miamians like to do best: chilling. The scene was relaxed in contrast to New York or Paris fashion week, with everyone going over their shots and notes in the lobby over a margarita or mojito. It was approximately 1,000 degrees outside, but the fashionistas were troopers. Although I’ve been to the hotel many times, I was struck once again by how beautiful the Raleigh is (which helped ignite my current passion for my city). One of the historic crown jewels of Miami Art Deco architecture, the Raleigh has maintained its original flair. Its pool, made famous by a 1947 Life magazine article which named it “the most beautiful pool in America,” is exactly as it was in the 40s when it was built. While walking around the hotel, visions of Clark Gable having a cigar in the lobby and Ester Williams taking a dip came to mind. The walls are filled with photos of famous celebrities who have graced the property over the years: my favorite shows Christopher Walken arm-in-arm with Liberace. Oh to be a fly on that wall! The Raleigh was even briefly a training site for WWII soldiers, as were many Miami Beach hotels. Overall, with their famous pool, gorgeous grounds and throwback feel, I couldn’t think of a more appropriate venue for Miami Fashion Week. Check out my photos from the last day of the swim shows at the world-famous Raleigh Hotel, and savor a slice of history.