Fashion Shows In Swimming Pools, Street Style on Yachts, and More: A Dispatch from Aruba Fashion Week

Funnily enough, there are lots of parallels between any major fashion week and Aruba fashion week. There's a Karl Lagerfeld-type who runs the show and a vibrant street style scene--it just happens on yachts and beaches instead of Lincoln Center. Oh and runways are in the middle of swimming pools. If you ask us, New York, London, Milan and Paris could learn a thing or two from Aruba.
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Hayley Phelan
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Funnily enough, there are lots of parallels between any major fashion week and Aruba fashion week. There's a Karl Lagerfeld-type who runs the show and a vibrant street style scene--it just happens on yachts and beaches instead of Lincoln Center. Oh and runways are in the middle of swimming pools. If you ask us, New York, London, Milan and Paris could learn a thing or two from Aruba.
Photo: Getty

Photo: Getty

For those of you who don't know, Aruba Fashion Week is a real thing. It happens once a year in November, lasts for four days--and a week ago I was offered the chance to attend. Um, I said yes.

Funnily enough, there are lots of parallels between any major fashion week and Aruba fashion week, known as Aruba In Style. There's a Karl Lagerfeld-type who runs the show and a vibrant street style scene--it just happens on yachts and beaches instead of Lincoln Center. Oh and runways are in the middle of swimming pools. If you ask us, New York, London, Milan and Paris could learn a thing or two from Aruba.

Click through for everything you need to know about it. And hey--maybe, just maybe, we can make this a fixture on the fashion week calendar.

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They Have Their Own Karl Lagerfeld His name is Ronchi De Cuba (pronounced "raunchy") and he is a legend on the island. He owns his own modeling agency, hosts Aruba's version of America's Next Top Model, owns the island's most successful salon and of course, designs a clothing line. Which is called Trash.

"I have about ten jobs," De Cuba joked when we spoke to him after his show, held at an over-the-top Versace-style mansion, complete with Grecian pillars and majestic staircases.

Of his glittery, disco-appropriate collection (which is completely produced in Aruba), De Cuba said, "I'm inspired by almost anything. From world events to someone I see on the street to a girl I see dancing in a club, having fun."

And De Cuba is totally in on the joke too.

Mid-way through our interview I begin to say something about having a sense of humor; Ronchi interrupted me and deadpanned, "[My line is] called Trash."

Touche.

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There's a Le Baron Too It's called Confessions, and I'm pretty sure it's the only club worth going to on the island. Indeed, everyone who is anyone--from Ronchi, to the male models, to the foreign press--could be seen there getting loose at night.

Photo: Getty

Photo: Getty

Charlotte Ronson Shows There! Okay so maybe it was just this one time. But the ultimate downtown doyenne said she was more than happy to trek to Aruba to show her Spring 2013 collection. "I love the sunshine and I've never been here," Ronson said to us backstage. "Issa did a show here last year and it looked amazing. So when the opportunity was presented to me it was like, how could I say no?"

Photo: Getty

Photo: Getty

The Front Row is also Sometimes the Pool! At what other fashion week can you get a first-rate view of the clothes on the runway and get a pleasant foot soak in a pool? We have to admit it was a little tricky balancing our purses and cameras, while we snapped away at the swimwear, without falling into the pool, but it was worth it just to be barefoot at a fashion show. What we really liked about the whole front-row-in-the-pool concept though is that it reminded us not to take fashion shows so seriously--something that's easy to forget at NYFW when stony-faced editors take their perches in the front row.

Photo: Getty

Photo: Getty

Street Style Takes Place on a Sail Boat

You know how during NYFW, all the editors hang out at Lincoln Square? And in Paris, everyone strolls around the Tuileries? Well in Aruba, all the editors hang out on a gorgeous catamaran in the middle of the ocean.

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Finally, the Clothing Thanks to Aruba's unique geographic location and cultural heritage, the island attracts a truly unique blend of talent. Considered the fashion capital of the Caribbean, Aruba is just 17 miles off the coast of Venezuela, and 81 miles from Colombia, and is also a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. That means, that Aruba In Style attracts both up-and-coming Dutch designers like Edwin Oudshoor and Allan Vos, as well as Colombian and Venezuelan swimwear designers like Caffe and Agua Bendita, and of course, local Aruban designers like Ronchi. Given the tropical climate, it's no surprise that the highlight at Aruba In Style is most definitely the swimwear.