48 Hours in Miami at Fashion Week Swim

The just-opened Philippe Starck-designed SLS South Beach

New York, London, Milan, Paris—fashion week's biggest power-player cities have haute couture and ready-to-wear nailed. But if you're looking for some serious runway resort wear—bikinis, monokinis, one-pieces, caftans, and cover-ups—there's no better place on earth to find them than Miami.

This season, at the behest of official sponsors American Express, StyleBistro hit South Beach for a whirlwind 48 hours at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Swim, where we got a sneak peek at some of next season's hottest beachwear looks (on some of the most statuesque models we've ever seen stride down the catwalk—more on that later!) and a look at what American Express cardholders get exclusive access to at Miami fashion week—hellooooo VIP!

Our 48-hour home base in Miami Thursday and Friday night was the just-opened brand-spanking-new SLS Hotel South Beach—a Philippe Starck-designed property housed in one of the most iconic Art Deco buildings in South Beach. Check out some of the cool design/hospitality features here (like the trompe l'oeil tapestries in the guest rooms, above).

In our sleeper room, the minibar and the wardrobe are integrated—finally, two of our favorite things, snacks and clothes, together!

Tangent: the minibar was incredibly well-equipped with some of our favorite snacks—conveniently separated into "Sinner" and "Saint" categories. Cute.

Which section do you think we snacked more from? Yup.

We took a quick tour of the amazing new property—which is the first place on the east coast to have a Katsuya (that legendary LA-based restaurant) and the first place in the world where iconic restaurants/clubs Katsuya, The Bazaar by Jose Andres, and Hyde exist under the same roof.

Personally, we're obsessed with the Katsuya's upstairs cocktail lounge, Dragon's Den:

Dinner Thursday night was at The Bazaar by Jose Andres—where the molecular gastronomy tapas include traditional items like croquetas (served in resin sneakers) as well as less traditional snacks (like liquidized caprese salad—the mozzarella pops in your mouth!).

Want to know what's really awesome about Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Swim? The shows are at night. That means we had the day to relax by the pool and hang out by the beach—with laptops in tow, of course. Here's the SLS Hotel South Beach hotel guest pool—that's a giant aluminum rubber duck Philippe Starck commissioned Disney to make specially:

And here's where StyleBistro's temporary offices were set up during the day:

Not bad, huh?

At night, we headed over to The Raleigh, where most of the Swim Week shows take place. This white tent, which is so similar to the old-school Fashion Week tent that Mercedes Benz and IMG would pitch in Bryant Park when New York Fashion Week was in midtown, is the only thing that makes Miami Swim Week at all similar to any other fashion week we've ever attended:

Because as soon as you get through check-in, this is what you see:

Yup, Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Swim is a whole lot different than other fashion weeks we've been to—it's a lot more laid-back, the shows are tented, but most of the time you're outdoors hanging out, enjoying the sunshine, and sipping cocktails.

Our first stop—and where we spent time in between shows—was the American Express pool side Cabana, which catered exclusively to VIP American Express cardholders who were treated to endless cocktails and champagne, yummy appetizers all throughout the night,  special VIP access to fashion shows, and exclusive meet-and-greets with the designers.

American Express runs a similar program in New York, where cardmembers can purchase access to a dedicated Skybox at Fashion Week—it's one of the only ways that non-industry people can actually (legally) attend Fashion Week, and we think it's a great idea.

Ooh, mini key lime pie!

We'll be rounding up some of the best looks (as well as a peek backstage!) we saw at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Swim, so check back at Stylebistro.com for that later today.

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