From Louis Vuitton-commissioned Yayoi Kusama sculptures at the Art Basel entrance to a Saint Laurent-sponsored photo exhibition of Madonna’s famous Sex book, Miami Art Week has felt a lot like a fashion week. For Colombia-born, Miami-based ready-to-wear and bridal designer Silvia Tcherassi, who has shown in Milan, Paris, and most recently, New York, it’s also a homecoming of sorts. On Tuesday, at magic hour, she staged her pre-fall 2023 runway show in a soaring atrium of the newly renovated Mayfair House Hotel & Garden in Coconut Grove, originally designed by architect and sculptor Kenneth Treister.
The mood was celebratory and the lineup featured Tcherassi’s signature bold floral cut-out dresses and colorful tropical-weight suiting. It also included 12 exquisite hand embroidered and embellished gowns made just down the road at the workshop inside Tcherassi’s Morris Lapidus-designed office. The show marks the runway debut of her demi-couture evening wear offering, which will be available for special order. “Miami now is all about art,” says Tcherassi, explaining her motivation to shine a spotlight on local art, architecture, and artisanal craft during Miami Art Week. “So I decided to show these pieces as a celebration of art and passion.”
The dresses, each of which took a team of seven artisans four full days to make, are indeed works of art and labors of love. Constructed with ethereal tulle and organza, they reimagine materials typically used for bridal wear by expanding the expected white-beige-gold color palette to include black, as well as jolts of tangerine, fuchsia, and sunshine yellow. A structured taffeta bubble hem dress comes in a colorful tartan, while a transparent point d’esprit gown is entirely embroidered in a red coral pattern.
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Tcherassi has long been a firm believer in upcycling, and several of the looks feature deadstock fabrics, like a striped gown made from strips of sequin trim collaged onto a tulle base and a dress fabricated entirely from fringe. “It’s all sustainable,” says Tcherassi’s daughter, Sofia, the label’s director of ready-to-wear. “It’s scraps of dresses that we’ve done before.”
Having a bridal atelier in Miami was a happy accident. Tcherassi’s eponymous label, founded in 1987, is an institution in Colombia, with stores in Cartagena, Medellin, Bogota, Cali, and her hometown of Barranquilla. She has a 200-person strong team in Barranquilla who produce her ready-to-wear, as well as wedding gowns for the domestic market. After moving to Miami and opening an outpost in Coconut Grove in 1997, she originally intended only to sell ready-to-wear. But after trying a bridal look in a window display in 2001, soon brides from across Latin America came calling.
Recognizing that it wasn’t practical to send wedding gowns back and forth between Miami and Barranquilla in between fittings for these international clients, Tcherassi recruited a team of local seamstresses to work with her on bridal commissions and trained them in the finer points of tulle embroidery and applying sequins to lace. She’s created the sort of specialized artisanal handcraft workshop more commonly associated with Paris couture houses than anything seen in the US (even most New York brands outsource embroidery overseas).
Two decades on, Tcherassi now has a shop in nearby Coral Gables, which has a private atelier for fittings. Her Miami workshop team has grown to include her daughter and mother, Vera, as well as women from across Latin American, like Rosalba, who is from Colombia and specializes in embellishment, and Leticia, a patternmaker from Ecuador. Iraelia, a Cuban immigrant who has been with the workshop from the start handles embroidery and hand sewing. “They are our family,” says Tcherassi.