After making their debut at last year’s Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week SWIM, WILDFOX returned on July 21, 2013 at the Soho Beach House. The California swim brand blew away Miami Swim Week attendees once again with their 1970’s inspired swim and resort collection. Psychedelic colors and vintage prints in tangerine, cherry red, and electric blue were some of the designs that graced the runway beneath an arch of rainbow balloons.

Swim designer Leilani Shimoda and runway expert Meredith Leyerzaph teamed up to create 41 looks, a drastic increase from last year’s 25 pieces. The extensive collection included bikinis, one pieces, cover-ups, and resort wear, styled with big colorful flowers, oversized hats, beach totes, and Wildfox Sun eyewear. Some stand-out designs were the tropical fruit print on a white canvas, a feminine butterfly print, and an attention grabbing rainbow print that lit up the runway.

Stila Cosmetics provided fresh, glowing faces for the models while teased 70s hair was created by TIGI. During a backstage interview with our editor Semant Jain, Adriana Papaleo of the TIGI team described their aim as “classic hairdressing to bring a very modern, progressive twist.” Inspired by Charlie’s Angels and mermaids, the line featured two main textures: a short disco style with tight curls, and a longer bohemian texture with loose curls. These looks were achieved with help from products such as TIGI Sessions Series Styling Cream and TIGI Strong Mousse.

Then Semant Jain caught up with Leilani Shimoda and Meredith Leyerzaph backstage, where they discussed their hopes for the brand and their inspirations for the 2014 collection.

How did you get started with the company?

Leilani: I was brought into the company two years ago and this is my third collection. I have grown up with Kimberly, who is one of the founders. We knew each other in high school [in Santa Barbara] and always admired each other’s work, and met later in life and ended up working together, and it’s been perfect!

What was the first piece of clothing that you designed?

Leilani: My very first collection started with intimates, I also do swimwear and intimate sleepwear, it was for the 2012 Romeo & Juliet line. We did really beautiful velvet sublimated, it was a very graphic, beautiful, 90s-inspired collection for White Label intimates, so it was a little bit more high-end.

Wildfox made a huge splash at the swim debut last year, resulting in a loyal following of celebrities, stylists, and trendsetters. What would you attribute to the success and what are you looking forward to?

Leilani: There was one season prior to me coming on board and the swim we have from then has been night and day. [The new collections are] executed much better in fit, in fabric, in graphics, and the line has grown into cover-ups and beach bags, sunglasses, towels. We’re really creating a lifestyle brand. We’re a California brand and we love the beach and pool adventures, and it just seemed natural to add swim into our t-shirt line.

How do you go about selecting your models? What characteristics do you look for to represent your designs?

Leilani: We design for all types of girls and we want a diverse palette, so when we look for models we look for that diversity in ethnicities and body types and breast size. We really create our pieces to fit all different kinds of bodies, with creating separates and different silhouettes to suit any kind of girl.

If you could have any one celebrity or model wear designs from your line, who would you like it to be?

Leilani: Rihanna! And Beyoncé! I’m dying for them to get into our swim. And Katy Perry. They really represent the bold, fun, Wildfox girl and they all look amazing in swim.

Where do you draw inspiration from?

Leilani: We draw a lot of inspiration throughout the brand from vintage. We love to story tell and create characters for our girl to relate to. There’s always a theme within our seasons. We draw inspiration from the stories that we make and the characters that we [created] for these girls.

What is the inspiration for this collection specifically?

Leilani: This collection is inspired by the bold women of the 1970s. It’s a pop theme, so there’s some kitsch, but there’s always a feminine part to our line and that’s definitely reflected in this line. There’s soft pastels and really beautiful homages to mermaids. It’s got quite a diverse transitional feeling to the whole story.

What is the story you’re trying to tell in this collection?

Leilani: It’s Charlie’s Angels on an island stakeout!

What are the most challenging aspects of designing this collection?

Meredith: To keep all body types in mind when you’re designing all of the styles, you take a lot of care into having a suit for every girl on the line.

Leilani: I really try to not exclude everyone, we have tops for large breasts, small ones, big hips, small hips, Brazilians, high-waisted. We have some retro pieces and we take a lot of time and care in fit, and I think we’ve done an amazing job with our fit.

What would you say would be your favorite piece of the 2014 collection?

Leilani: My favorite piece of this collection is a lace up one piece. It’s very sexy even though it’s a one piece. It’s a true homage to the 70’s, and I particularly love the paisley print that we did. Our final piece is more about the print, it’s a flamingo print that is one of my favorites, it’s really beautiful and feminine.

What is the most unique quality about Wildfox in this year’s collection?

Leilani: The most unique quality is how much we’ve grown since last year!

Meredith: I think Wildfox girls usually want to make a statement, and I think with our graphics it’s a good way of wearing a statement.

Leilani: There’s graphics that are a little more bold than others, so if you don’t want to have a big saying that maybe attracts [unwanted] attention, there’s other pieces that are more subtle like our beautiful hombre this year. We’ve also included many reversible styles, I wanted to incorporate some solids in there as well so you get a little more bang for your buck.

What has been your favorite part of the overall experience?

Leilani: I’ve really enjoyed working with Meredith here on the runway line, she’s an expert in high fashion runway and it has been amazing to put this giant puzzle together. Models, shoes, the styling is really incredible, I’m so excited to show everyone.

Thanks a lot for the interview.


interview and photography by SEMANT JAIN, PH.D.
content editor MARISA LYON
fashion writer ALEXANDRA SCHECK