From a spectator point of view, I had a great time. As far as the island goes, the Aruba Fashion Week delivered prestige, an incremental value, it did not deliver any additional visitors, besides the designers, models, and organizers, and you can’t take prestige to the bank!
Thursday evening, on the beach at the Ritz Carlton, the Grand Opening featured a fashion show by Colombian-born, Miami-based Silvia Tcherassi. She is a big name now, and perhaps the footage from her excellent show, against the backdrop of the Ritz Carlton in Aruba will be viewed in her boutiques and hotels, overseas. The show was one hour and a half late, because organizers did not finish the set up on time. But never mind, it was a TEN. It was fantastic. The designer revealed that she got her start at Aquarius Boutique in Aruba in the 80s when the then-owner Martin Tauber recognized her talent and placed a large order, among her first! Martin Tauber happened to be in the audience and accepted her tribute graciously, he now lives in Florida, and only comes to visit his grandchildren here. It’s a small world, Aquarius Boutique was iconic in those days when the Bolivar exchange rate was four to the dollar, and we lustily bought Maude Frizon and Charles Jordan shoes for a fortune, at Aquarius.
Friday at the Renaissance Convention Center, the room had no traditional catwalk, it had a dance floor, and stadium seating, the bare minimum for the show, no branding, no frills, apparently low budget; the shows were late, but they were also great: Agua Bendita with an extensive collection, NMZ, with just one dress, shown a dozen times, and Eliza Lejuez. Her collection, We kiss the Joy as it Flies, made us proud, as she paraded more than one dozen looks made with her pure Japanese silk scarves, transformed into resort wear, her first collection of that kind. And she did it all herself, from scratch, including the fabric design and the sewing.
On Saturday Gigiola Gomez, with her Mystique Collection 2017, also made us proud, showing off feminine and elegant evening looks. She was listed on the program with Custo Barcelona, and other international fashion brands, which is no small feat.
I also visited the Trade Show and noticed that Gold Coast Residence had a spectacular booth. I hope they sold some condos and homes to some of the trade show exhibitors.
Thank you to the Gianni Group, a big sponsor of the event, along with the Marriott Aruba Resort & Stellaris Casino, the Renaissance Resorts, the Ritz Carlton Aruba, and key spirits sponsor Pepia Est. Then instead of heading to Azia for the closing party most of the starved, emaciated models were lured to +297 for the after-party, which did not end well according to media reports. I imagine Gianni’s Group was not happy about the change of venue but was pleased that they were spared the incident with the Police.
The Aruba Fashion Week promoter Angel Leon, is the son of Angel Leonn Sr., Fondly remembered from the party days at the Wyndham / Westin, in the Alfonso Riverol era. Leon has been dreaming about the Aruba Fashion Week for years. He finally realized his dream, successfully as far as fashion, underwhelming as far as tourism results.
Will he get the Aruba Tourism Authority’s subsidy next year? Time will tell, but save the date anyway, December 1 – 4th, 2017.
We noted the absence of the former Aruba In Style team, local designer Ronchi de Cuba, Damilice Mansur, Eva Zissu, they were also successful at organizing quality fashion shows, a number of years ago, but ran into the same difficulty in identifying and attracting potential tourist markets to benefit the island hotels, and to justify the substantial investment.