Friday 15 December 2017

Sea Siren: How Ibiza inspired the Mona Swims line


Swimsuit, €250, Mona Swims. Model’s right hand: bangle, €180; ring, €170; Model's left hand: bangle, €180, all Jayne Fowler
Swimsuit, €250, Mona Swims. Model’s right hand: bangle, €180; ring, €170; Model's left hand: bangle, €180, all Jayne Fowler
Bikini, €195, Mona Swims.Triangle hoop earrings, €85; triangle stud earrings, €75; neckpiece, €2,000; model’s right hand: bangle, €180; ring, €80; ring (on index finger), €170; model’s left hand: bangle, €180, all Jayne Fowler

Carla Johnson's inspiration for this season's Mona Swims line came from Ibiza - she spent almost all of last year living there. Beside where Carla was staying on the island was a cave which contained a shrine to the moon goddess Tanit, who is invoked for fertility; the collection is named after her. Tanit had a strong impact on this season's line.

"I'd heard people say before that they'd found there to be a really strong feminine energy in Ibiza, and I really felt it last summer," recalls the designer. "It's incredible. I can't explain it, but I feel when women live there good things happen. It's very positive, and powerful."

This resulted in a collection that Carla says is her most feminine yet - it uses more silk, features lighter colours, and prints that she describes as dreamy. The Mona Swims hallmarks are still there: fish-scale prints and a dark, ethereal aesthetic, quite distinct from most swimwear brands.

Ibiza has always been a source of inspiration for the designer, who visited the island during her summers as a student. "That definitely was a huge influence in starting the brand itself," she says of her early trips, which awakened her to the idea of interesting swimwear. "It's kind of a perfect place to be, with a summer brand," reflects Carla, who, having studied print textiles in NCAD, spent almost a decade living in London.

The bohemian, laid-back nature of Ibiza has led her to create more cover-ups for this season, the sort of thing that, in warm climates, isn't just holiday wear, but everyday wear. "They're floaty, dreamy, and quite luxurious," she explains. "And that's kind of Ibiza, really."

On a practical note, spending such long periods in a warm climate has massively informed her work. "It's really, really good as a swimwear designer to live in a hot country, because, living in the city, I naturally designed in a darker way. And I love that, and want to keep that in my brand, but when you're living in a hot country, you really see what you want to wear in the heat," she says. "People are wearing your designs to pool parties, social occasions, not just strictly as beachwear. You get into the mind-set of people who are in hot weather 24/7."

It's swimwear for life, not just the holidays.

Photography by Tania Saraiva

Styling by Carla Johnson

Words by Liadan Hynes

Fashion edited by Constance Harris

Sunday Indo Life Magazine

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