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Designers go global at Miami Fashion Week

Miami Fashion Week revs up its runways March 20-23 at Miami Beach Convention Center.

The spate of catwalk shows ($50 to $500) not only puts the media spotlight on South Florida-based talent, but also designers from Latin America, the Caribbean and such far-flung countries as the United Arab Emirates, Bosnia & Herzegovina and the United Kingdom. This year, founder and organizer Beth Sobol has even added an Africa showcase.

"The designers are stars in their own countries, but they're not known here yet," says Sobol before adding that MFW has education and mentoring programs for designers trying to break into the lucrative U.S. market. "There are different levels of resources we can provide to the designer. We vet pretty heavily; we don't just let anyone in. And if they come here and win an award, they go home superstars."

Bringing some paparazzi pop to the festivities will be "The Real Housewives of Miami," who are taping an episode at the shows. Opening night, Brazilian designer Carlos Miele – who dresses Jennifer Lopez, Rihanna, Florence Welch, Blake Lively and Beyonce - will be presented the Designer of the Year Award and will show his 2013 fall/winter collection.

The week concludes with the Miami Moda & Music Awards ($50 to $500) where early word of confirmed celebs attending includes: Sammy Sosa (Dominican baseball star); Adriana Barraza (Mexican actress, "Babel," "Thor"); Fernando Carrillo (Venezuelan telenovela actor); Barbara Bermudo (Puerto Rican journalist); Lupita Jones (1st Mexican woman to win Miss Universe in 1991); Fabian Rios (Colombian actor and model) and Lorena Rojas (Mexican singer and telenovela actress).

There will also be pop-up boutiques and Wedding Pavilion ($20) as well as a V.I.P. Culinary Style Cafe ($25) sponsored by Whole Foods, where a local chef creates a three-course tasting menu every night.

The collection of shows has been known by many names. For the last two years they were Miami Beach International Fashion Week, which was more specific than when it was simply Miami International Fashion Week in 2010. Prior to that, the event was Miami Fashion Week of the Americas for a few years starting in 2004 and before that was known as Moda in Miami: Fashion Week of the Americas when Sobol moved it from Miami International Merchandise Mart to Miami Beach in 2000. The first two years the event was Miami International Fashion Week.

“Everyone in the world calls it Miami Fashion Week no matter what we put on paper,” explains Sobol. “It’s important to condense the name.”

Miami Fashion Week takes place in Hall D of Miami Beach Convention Center, 1901 Convention Center Drive in Miami Beach. Tickets for fashion shows are $50 (general admission), $250 (2nd and 3rd row) and $500 (front row). To order, go to

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