On January 19th, 2024, the Fashion Institute of Florida held its graduation fashion show for its recent alums. It allowed a new cohort of excited aspiring fashion designers who have studied and worked hard to start their evolution into creative professionals. Six students presented that evening with three to four outfits respectively.
Each alum competed for a chance to show a twelve-piece collection in the Spring/Summer 2025 edition of New York Fashion Week. There were three judges: Susan Elias, a fashion designer; Brad Singer, CEO of Lucky in Love; and Lisu Vega, an artist and a renowned veteran designer. The judges chose the winner based on creativity, execution, and overall harmony of the collection. The winning student received exclusive lace fabrics from Solstiss Paris and a gift certificate from Rex Fabrics Miami.
The Fashion Institute and Miami Fashion
The Fashion Institute of Florida was founded by Rucht d’Oleo-Schwartz in 2016, based on the belief that quality fashion design education can also be a nurturing and patient experience. Thus, every type of student thrives in the school’s environment as they learn the art and craft of fashion design with industry professionals as instructors. The school is designed to prepare students for any goal they have in mind, such as creating their clothing line, working in the fashion industry, or just sewing for themselves.
The night of the graduation was warm but luckily avoided being a typical Miami sauna. As the sun set, the receding light transformed dusk into an evening glowing with the excitement and pride of the graduates, their family, and their supporters. Fashion professionals and the press entered the event space to find a meticulously planned show. Although the location was not remarkably ample, the production team ingeniously laid out the runway, seats, and entertainment areas with a sense of panache and space. The crowd immediately started to hum with anticipation while the melodious music set the tone of excitement and joy for the students making their final presentations.
Fashion Designers Nelson Fraga and Gelsis Perez during the Fashion Institute of Florida Graduate Show 2024
Miami is a fashion town, and although it emphasizes resort and beachwear, most local designers produce elegant, adventurous clothes that rival the creativity of other fashionable cities. Miami is always eager to explore fashion, but they want to have fun while doing it. The six graduates certainly provided the audience with some beautiful and unique looks to make Maimi proud.
Winner of the Evening: Stephanie Miot
Stephanie Miot’s collection during the Fashion Institute of Florida Graduate Show 2024
The evening’s fashion show winner was Stephanie Miot. Stephanie presented an elegant collection of four black dresses in various silhouettes with gorgeous beading. The dresses maintained an elevated feeling while still being playful with the beading, providing each a unique style. Stephanie has a vibrant personality with a gleaming smile and a joyous energy that translated into her evening presentation. Her last look was a long, imperious black gown with a full skirt mimicking a Spanish infanta. Later, that same dress transformed at the end of the runway into a shorter, more flirty style. All her dresses maintained the same panache that echoes in formal dinners along the shores of Palm Beach or the charity benefits in palmy Coral Gables. Stephanie’s inspiration was based on her emotions of joy, family, and the music she grew up with. The graduation collection was dedicated in honor of her sister.
The Editor's Pick: Sophia Fiorella
Sophia Fiorella’s collection during the Fashion Institute of Florida Graduate Show 2024
Another revolutionary designer was Sophia Fiorella, who had earned a bachelor’s degree in studio art specializing in painting. She only recently, in 2020, decided it was time for a new medium, which ended up being fashion design. As a child, she always believed she would be a clothing designer, but she started making art. Nonetheless, her future was fashion design since most of her paintings and drawings were heavily fashion-inspired (models, outfitting, etc.). Sophia presented three avant-garde pieces, which were simultaneously gorgeous and well-constructed and conveyed a profound message of acceptance.
Her collection was called “Krazy Girl” and can be described as brutal glamour with its imagery of hypodermic needles. There were also callouts to the pharmaceutical industry, and pollution. The dresses were all in various shades of white and gray, cleverly mimicking straight jackets with loose ties and an institutional feel. Yet, they were beautiful and would look marvelous in hip European nightclubs or trendy night spots. Sophia stated her inspiration was self-reflection and the pressures to look good. She kept thinking “Why can’t I be perfect?” as she designed the clothes. Her motto is that the body is a canvas to express our emotions.
At Evening's End
At the show’s end, Rucht stated, “I’m blown away with the original designs paired with the music and styling. I am so proud of all my students. I know creating this show took a long time, but the graduate’s hard work paid off. The audience soared with the show’s energy. It was fantastic to see.”
The next step is for the winner to start anew with original illustrations and design twelve brand-new looks. The audience was eager to see all the graduates’ next steps. The evening ended with admirers and family surrounding the students to congratulate and encourage them. Although the academic journey ended for these students, it is now their turn to wow the rest of the world and add to Maimi’s fashion success.