Miami Swim Week 2019 (or how I discovered I’ve turned into a Conversationalist)

By Danié Gómez-Ortigoza

June 7, 2020

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Inclusion, sustainability, and beautiful productions were some of the components of this year’s Swim Week. It truly is a special week for Miami. I’m usually traveling during this time of year, but this time I chose to stay here.

Danie Gomez-Ortigoza, Irma Martinez and Neelam, Paraiso, Miami Beach.
Danie Gomez-Ortigoza, Irma Martinez and Neelam, Paraiso, Miami Beach.

In time, specific events like this one, become references to remember what life felt like before. I’ve experienced SwimWeek in different ways since I first moved to Miami: first as a Miami-newbie walking by without understanding the tents all over Miami Beach. Later, as a Correspondent for Glamour Latin America, totally lost, trying to make sense of it all and prove myself, after just receiving my business-card and not having any idea of what I was doing. A couple of years later, I owned my role and enjoyed every bit of it. This time my role shifted. I experienced it as a conversationalist; And after a year of absence, it felt really good to be back.

The last two years have been a time of transformation for me. Something special happens when you surrender yourself to life. The experiences that come to you and the energy that you attract change completely. I reached a point of inner transformation that began in 2017 with Hurricane Irma followed by being in Mexico City right on time for the 2017 Earthquake, and other personal situations that made me get on my knees and surrender as I reconsidered everything I thought I was. In the end, it’s never about the things that happen to people, but who things happen to.

There’s always a good opportunity to spark conversations at events like this: from Chopard’s dinner at Paraiso Miami Beach, prepared by Brad Kilgore, to Iorane’s social media celebrity filled dinner, to different presentations from brands from all over the world (including the launch of Vetchy), and the presentation of Dos Gardenias and Steam, both with an eco-conscious approaches in every area of their production lines.

Jillian Sanz and Erin Newberg. Guayabera look by L’antillaise.
Jillian Sanz and Erin Newberg. Guayabera look by L’antillaise.

I spent sometime with Marie France Van Damme, the Hong Kong based designer behind the luxury resort brand that carries her name, and has grown exponentially in the last couple of years. When I met her, she was selling at only three stores, but now she’s everywhere. Being around her is an experience of its own. Her elegant hand movements and her choice of words, in addition to the silent spaces in our conversation as we styled some of her looks, are something to remember.

Unexpectedly, I also had a conversation on success and the importance of mentors with Bradley Kilgore who, after starting his career as a dishwasher, has turned his love of flavors and bringing people together, into an extraordinary restaurant emporium.

Later, I found myself in a very unique conversation on overcoming barriers and paving the way for others with Eglantina Zingg, a beautiful model and TV host with a wild soul, who grew up in the Amazons surrounded by nature and exotic animals. She is now dedicated to paving the way for girls through ‘Goleadoras’, a project that helps girls build confidence and a sense of belonging that has turned her into a UN Gobal Ambassador. Mireya Cisneros was there, bringing her incredibly inspirational touch as she spoke about the importance of building strong network of support among philanthropic ventures to impact the world dynamics through Unidos en Red, as we dined at a special event by Toys for Boys and Ferrari of Miami, that supported Fashion4Good.

The week wrapped up in the best of ways by a last minute decision to attend Cabana, that transformed into a conversation with Lubov Azria, who after being the Creative Director for BCBG for more than 25 years, and recently losing her husband, is now going through a process of reinvention, where she brings to life her personal vision of the ease of fashion in the most elegant way, through La Boheme, by Lubov Azria. It’s one of the brands that will embody this timeless luxury that I can’t get enough from.
There’s a special light in people’s eyes when they are going through a process of inner-transformation: I could see that in her. And as she spoke about the excitement she felt of personally crafting each item of her collection, after having over-seen for so long a team of more than 300 people, I was reminded of how in the end, regardless of your aspirations, the journey will always be the destination.