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By Julie Harper

For the fourth consecutive year Manabí had the distinction of hosting an extraordinary fashion event. Every year the venue changes and each year the venue is fitting and exciting. This fashion show is a very coveted invitation to receive, indeed.

Without exception the December 4 venue was perfect for jewelry designer María José Zambrano and her exquisite Marine Collection, Patricia Olmedo’s Tropical Reef Swimwear Collection, and Fernando Zambrano’s Resort Collection.

Puerto Atún Jaramijó, owned by the generous and charitable Paladines Family, offered its attendants, starry skies, and sweeping evening views of the Pacific Ocean with fishing boats well lit and anchored at sea. It was really quite perfect. Though quite windy, the breeze gave movement to the garments and drove home the fact that it was indeed a Marina Collection. The Paladines family were very gracious hosts, attending to everyone in the crowd, introducing themselves, greeting friends and making everyone feel equally welcome and important.

The event opening offered models wearing matching, shimmering, flowing fabric that the breeze picked up and you could truly imagine the movement of water. They flowed smoothly down the runway with lovely symmetry, like waves gently coming to the shore.

And then the true show began.

There is only one way to describe the jewelry of María José Zambrano, breathtakingly gorgeous! Pulling her inspiration from the sea, each piece is exquisitely handcrafted using cuprum which is a byproduct of aluminum, gold, and treasures from the sea, fashioned to resemble coral and seahorses. Every woman of means who is fortunate enough to live on the coast of this spectacular country or has the pleasure of vacationing in other shoreline cities around the world should have at least several pieces of her creations in their jewelry box. Each piece is unique and elegant with a true feeling of exclusivity. I cannot imagine wearing one of her pieces and not having compliment after compliment. Her art is a conversation starter and a show stopper! I would go so far as to say they are truly all “important pieces.”

Patricia Olmedo dazzled us with her Tropical Reef Collection of swimwear as well. Each piece was exciting and either playful, sophisticated, or just plain sexy. Swimwear styles change so much from year to year and it is imperative to stay current when you live in a coastal city. When you’re out looking for your next swimwear, you must check out Patricia‘s collection. You just have to!

Fernando Zambrano‘s resort collection was very sophisticated. These exciting fashions will easily take you to an exclusive club, dining out on the Isle of Capri, or perhaps yachting on the spectacular Wayra Kontiki. There were several pieces in her collection that I honestly haven’t been able to quit thinking about. I simply love her designs. They were realistic and smart designs that you can easily imagine yourself wearing. True class!

A special and unexpected culinary treat awaited for us afterwards. Manta’s wonderful La Bricola Italian Restaurant set up on the mainland of the expansive Paladines family properties. They offered a limited but tastefully thought out menu, complete with table linens, china, music, and beautiful table service. Sitting with friends al fresco under the beautiful star lit sky after such a beautiful event was something I will not soon forget.


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