South Florida Designers on the Rise

Miami is stepping up its game in the getting-dressed department

A summer that lasts well into November, a preference for color, a need for pieces that transition from sand to city life—meeting Miami’s fashion needs isn’t an easy task. Meet four local designers whose homegrown brands are keeping Miamians, as well as the celeb set, dressed and accessorized.

First Resort
When it comes to lingerie, few lines live up to Eberjey’s standards of femininity blended with subtle sensuality. But the Miami-born brand from owners Ali Meja and Mariela Rovito is just as versed in resort wear as it is in under things. From bandeau and triangle-top bikinis to cover-ups, shorts, sheer, flowing pants and chiffon caftans, find boho-esque pieces in tribal prints, subtle patterns, cotton crochet laces and cotton gauze—all capable of going from beach to chic with the quick addition of accessories.

Tribal prints by Eberjey

Says Mejia, “Our designs fit in seamlessly with the relaxed, casual vibe of Miami. Whether you are hitting the beach, going for an early-evening drink or strolling to the market, our pieces are light, comfortable, effortless.” And that’s a trio anyone can appreciate, even celebs like Kourtney Kardashian, who was recently spotted in the Hippie Chic One-Piece. As for Mejia’s favorite pieces from the collection, they are the Jasper-printed pants, the gold triangle bikini and the new lace cover-ups, particularly the Sun Goddess Phoenix dress and the Free Spirit Malena tunic. “Designing resort wear comes so naturally to me. I’m constantly inspired by beach life and by the freedom one feels while being on vacation. I absolutely love transporting myself to those faraway places that capture that vacation vibe of our collections, “ she says.

From Day to Night
Designer Lorie Lester attributes her city and culture to her designs. “Women in Miami dress to be noticed. As a woman from a Latin background, I was always taught to dress up for occasions. We live for celebrations here,” says Lester. And with her versatile collection of day and night pieces, it’s easy to dress the part. Whether you’re headed to a lazy Sunday brunch or a chic cocktail affair, Lester has a dress for that, especially her two favorites: the cutout maxi and the cocoon dress. “The cutout maxi is great on any body type. You can adjust it to cover or reveal more. The cocoon dress is just a perfect combination of chic and comfort,” she says.

Fashion by Lorie Lester

A little bit boho and a little bit rock ’n’ roll, Lester’s pieces range from tribal-print maxi dresses with mesh detail to backless little black dresses with fringe. It’s this mix of textures that really brings Lester’s designs to life. “My favorite part of designing is sourcing textiles. Fabrics are so inspiring. Once you find that fabric that has that soft feel or bold color that I love, the designing process takes over.” And takes off. Lester’s pieces have been worn by the likes of Giuliana Rancic, Brittany Snow, Miranda Kerr and Maria Celeste.

Baubles and Bells
When Jewels by Dunn designer Taryn Aronson strings together a new necklace or beads an avant-garde arm party, Hollywood takes notice. The Miami designer’s wares have been spotted on the likes of Jessica Alba, Selena Gomez, Sofia Vergara, even Justin Bieber. And during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Swim, Aronson’s jewels were worn by designer Betsy Johnson. “I can’t even explain how cool that was. Such an iconic, fun designer,” Aronson says.

Jewels by Dunn

But it’s not just the star set that love her designs, Miamians are often spotted showing off their own Jewels by Dunn. “I get a ton of inspiration from color,” says Aronson. “Even through fall I tend to mix bright neons into the pieces to add a punch.” That’s a statement any color-loving Miami fashionista can take to heart.

Some of Aronson’s standout pieces include her chunky beaded Buddha necklaces and her pave stacker in silver with a blend of alternating spikes and crystals. Currently, Aronson’s best-selling trends are spikes and her pavé happy-face bracelet. “Also tassels, tassels, tassels. People can’t get enough.” But Aronson’s personal favorites are the one-of-a-kind macramé pieces, which feature tribal or bejeweled beads. “They take the longest to make and really give me an outlet creatively to do whatever I want.”

Keeping It Casual
Peace Love World isn’t just a loungewear brand, it’s a movement. At least that’s how creator Alina Villasante sees her brand. The Miami-made line of comfy tees, easy dresses and soft sweats aren’t just über soft and cozy, they’re inspiring. Each piece contains a message, like I Am Love, or I am Happiness, giving the line a bit of soul. “I love life," says Villasante. "I love being happy and seeing people around me happy. I thrive on positivity. We must always focus on the positive and on the meaningful. It’s about an appreciation of what we have and not focusing on what we feel we are missing. I truly believe this and want to inspire others with my message.”

Peace Love World

Her pieces are regularly spotted on celebs like Jennifer Lopez, Halle Berry, Kim Kardashian and Sofia Vergara. And at the heart of the line is Villasante’s love of her own world, Miami. “The city is filled with beautiful people, a Latin flair, fashion, culture, art. My brand was born here. My clothes have a soulful feeling that reflects the lifestyle and the energy of Miami,” Villasante says.