On one side of town, an army of models stormed the Miami runway for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week SWIM last weekend. Simultaneously, on the other side of town it's the artists who have been cooking up some creative chaos on the surface of anything they can find. Literally. In respects to Swim Week, KNSTRCT hand picked three local street artists, Alexander Mijares, Chris Dudot and Joey Diez, and asked them to create three original pieces of art inspired by swimwear straight off the SWIM runway. Thereafter, this art + swim editorial was brought to life by show-stopper Greta Jimenez, who vibrantly modeled the suits and photographer Joey Wright captured the moment.
Joey Diez is a self-taught Miami-based artist who takes inspiration from the sea. Having grown up fishing, the theme of the ocean and clean water flows throughout his work. He was appropriately matched with Colombian design duo Agua Bendita (meaning Blessed Water). Created in 2003 by Catalina Álvarez and Mariana Hinestroza, the brand has launched six collections based on their “Bendita’s Girl” ethos, a concept whereby all women are beautiful and blessed. A fun, youthful brand, this Bendito One Piece is seductive, playful and tasteful, with a rare cut that flatters the female body in a way unlike typical swimwear pieces.
Diez, whose works he describes as “a transference of my stream of consciousness,” was taken by this particular garment. “I was inspired by the suit's revolting and provocative nature. The shape showcases the female body in a rebellious way that’s not normal to the swimwear industry, putting any bikini to shame. I chose to create art pieces that are also provocative by nature.”
Diez’s approach is free, fresh and entirely unselfish, founded on a desire to challenge preconceptions and to provide positivity within his community.
“I was drawn to painting as a child when I first saw graffiti on highway signs around Miami,” he says. “I didn’t appreciate the negative characteristics of the graffiti culture, but rather the idea of creating public art and reaching people through art. It’s both expressionist and abstract, and stylistically post graffist with a heavy influence of Miami’s tropical and art deco coloring.
This expressionism can be seen in his explosively colorful and wild interpretations of Agua Bendita’s Bendito One Piece design, honing in on their playful nature and the lifestyle associated with swimwear that can be so easily forgotten. Sunshine, seaside and ocean breezes are freely explored in this collection, which perfectly complements this sleek, sexy suit – a heavenly backdrop for the outfit of a true Bendita Goddess.
Self-taught Dudot and Parsons Graduate Hoffman were an unlikely match that resulted in this edgy, innovative print, which reflects the inherent design aesthetics of both artists. Hoffman showed her first swimwear line in 2008 (for Mercedez Benz Fashion Week in New York) and showed at Miami Swim the following year. A firmly established designer, renowned for her nonconformist shows that have included live musicians, offbeat locations and the use of dancers as well as models, Hoffman continues to reinvent her label while constantly delivering her signature bold, colorful prints. Taking inspiration from nature, travel, magic and mythology, her work is an explosion of color and cultural frenzy that makes for show stopping pieces every year.
Dudot, a Miami boy at heart, draws his inspiration from the ocean and the element of water. “My art has been inspired by its fluidity and form,” he says. “I relate my line work to a ripple in water, where the shape of origin dictates all linear form thereafter.” His interpretation of the Lattice Maillot in Horizon Green abides by Hoffman’s design and his own style, which he likes to call “Chaotic Flow.” What initially seems wild and erratic, upon closer examination, reveals a deep, mathematical consistency.
Dudot aims to draw the eye to the “overwhelming balance and symmetry through intricate lines and color contrast.” For this assignment, he worked with Hoffman’s simple shapes while magnifying, amplifying and complicating them in his own unique way. Hoffman’s use of dynamic shapes and intricate, slender patterns smoothly translates to Dudot’s edgy, colorful board in a complimentary, bold and feminine way. This strong, confident interpretation is a true homage to Hoffman’s flattering, powerful suit.
Aussie-based husband and wife duo We Are Handsome were paired with Miami native Alexander Mijares, who created this mural based on their feisty lion one-piece. With mixed Cuban and Spanish heritage, Mijares constantly returns to the colorful energy of his roots as a key source of inspiration. Similarly, We Are Handsome are firmly grounded in their homeland, insuring that every piece is 100% Australian designed and made. We Are Handsome founders, Jeremy and Katinka Somers, strive to creative innovative pieces that capture the spirit of the eternal Aussie summer with their use of bold color, striking prints and a keen understanding of the female form. Mijares was inspired by the symmetrical quality of the suit, as well as the majesty and prowess of the lion. His mural depicts an angel, a similarly powerful being that adheres to the magical quality of We Are Handsome designs.
As a home-grown Miami artist, we asked Mijares how he feels about the local art scene – and how it has taken off over the past five years. “There are a lot of new platforms on which artists can showcase their work, whether it be on the streets or in new galleries that are popping up,” he says. “Social media has also helped to create awareness and spread the word. With the growth of Wynwood in recent years, taking the burgeoning neighborhood into the international spotlight, Miami’s art scene now has more influence worldwide than ever before.”
The bold, brave face of the lion is whimsically and cleverly captured in this giant mural, honoring the use of iconic imagery and symmetry of the designer and honoring the forward thinking that’s pushing the boundaries of Miami’s advancement in the art world.
Model: Greta Jimenez // Photographer: Joey Wright //Artists: Alexander Mijares, Chris Dudot and Joey Diez // Swimwear Designers: Agua Bendita, Mara Hoffman and We Are Handsome // Studio: C&I Studios Inc. // MUA: Kailin Fernandez