During Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week SWIM 2014, Monica Wise presented her swimwear collection, L*Space in The Raleigh Hotel’s Cabana Grande. L*Space has been recognized as the Surfwear Industry Manufacture Association’s Swimwear Brand Of The Year for the five consecutive years. In 2010, Monica Wise was named the Mercedes Benz Designer Of The Year, Consequently, her 2014 collection didn’t leave anyone surprised that L*Space holds these titles.
L*Space teamed up with Stila Cosmetics, blo ¬– Blow Dry Bar Midtown Miami, and Ipanema to achieve bright eyes, glitter-dipped fishtail braids, and beach-ready ankle boots. The models were also seen sporting statement necklaces and captain hats, emulating the luxurious beach escape that inspired Monica Wise’s 2014 collection.
In addition to L*Space’s signature ruffle and fringe, cut-outs and lace made many appearances on bikinis and one pieces, as well as flowing dresses and beach covers. The patterns in this year’s collection ranged from solid print to chevron to Aztec, presented in a tropical-inspired palette featuring colors such as eucalyptus, paprika, watermelon, shell pink, and berry. These shades translated from one piece to the next, creating a collection that can be worn in many ways and combinations.
Our editor, Semant Jain caught up with Monica Wise backstage to discuss the designer’s inspiration for her 2014 collection.
Why did you pick the name L*Space, and what does it stand for?
Well, everything in life that I love ended up starting with the letter “L,” so it just made sense to name it after my own space, which was Love, Laughter, Living, Luxury.
What is the most unique thing about you as a designer? How does being a designer differ from other aspects of your life?
I wouldn’t say that I’m unique, but I’m so passionate about what I do. I didn’t have the education for design, which you hear a lot in the fashion industry, but it’s all about the passion and the fire that makes you a good designer. I’ve got that fire in me!
What made you decide to be a designer?
Well, I came from Florida and in Florida you’re constantly in bikinis. I fell in love with the bikini, a love affair!
You mention Florida, and your collections are usually inspired by the beaches in France, Mexico, Bali, and parts of Southern California. What is it about those locations that inspires you the most? Do you look at other sources for inspiration?
I do look at accessories, the shoes, handbags. You get a lot of inspiration for bikinis as far as touches of a ring or a strap. As far as inspiration when it comes to travel, it just seems when you get out of your element of your local beaches and even the U.S., you find a lot of inspiration from Europe. They’re just so sensual and so sexy that it just reeks as far as inspiration. It can come at any moment from over there, sitting under an umbrella, soaking up the culture.
Where did you draw your inspiration from specifically for this collection?
My inspiration for 2014 is all about travel and the girl that can go anywhere on a whim. I personally made a trip to Cayman Islands a couple of months ago and, I went there years ago as a kid, fell in love with it, and just hoped that someday I’d return and showcase my brand and share that love with the Cayman Islands with the consumers. All the colors in my collection all represent beach colors: we have pebble, we have sand, we have sun. It’s all about travel and the girl that’s got a loving life attitude.
You juggle three different collections — L*Space, Maio Swim, and The Collection — and I’m sure it can be challenging. What type of woman do you have in mind when you are creating these collections?
It’s a girl that is very comfortable with herself. She’s confident, she’s a fun-loving spirit, she’s like me – if she’s wearing my clothes, she’s got to be like me! It just comes easy. The apparel is designed by a gal that I brought on board last year from Free People, so she’s a fabulous apparel designer, she’s my right hand girl.
Your collections are described as, “sophisticated, beach chic, glam surfer, and fashion forward.” How do you keep this theme alive in each swimwear piece you create?
Just make a lot of trips to the beaches! Stay out there in the field with my customers, doing trunk shows and listening to what they love and what they want from me. It’s all about listening.
Swimwear that moved and was less form-fitting was your inspiration for your last collection at Swim Week. What were you inspired by this season?
This year was suits that can be worn a lot of ways, and apparel pieces that can be worn on and off the beach. We have some really easy breezy dresses and beach pants, but it’s all about the gal who loves to pack a lot of fun clothing in her suitcases. Reversibles are a big trend for me this year, a lot of reversibles that can be worn many ways.
Thanks a lot for the interview.
interview and photography by SEMANT JAIN, PH.D.
content editor MARISA LYON
copy editor KIM PHAM
fashion writer ALEXANDRA SCHECK