On the last day of the SwimShow, as we were literally on our way out the door, I walked passed the booth of swimwear designer Helena Fogarty of Mi Ola and instantly got drawn in to her surf friendly yet sexy line of swimsuits. Make sure to visit Mi-Ola.com.
The first thing I learned was Fogarty surfs and lives in the northwestern part of Costa Rica. I frequently travel down there to surf the solid swells that roll up on the Pacific coast and to enjoy the “Pura Vida” lifestyle. Helena is a very mellow, down to earth person that is passionate about her swimsuits.
I enjoyed chatting with her about her former life in the New York fashion scene, surfing and her swimwear line. I am looking forward to my next trip down and plan to surf with her as well as enjoy more Costa Rican coffee (which she gave out as gifts at her SwimShow booth).
Checkout the Mi Ola Swimwear at the SwimShow 2013 I snapped.
As a surfer, I can appreciate the fact that woman have a challenge finding cute swimwear that is functional in the water. I have seen girls wearing sports bras with boys swim trunks out there because most bikinis will fall off while they are paddling out while duck diving the waves.
To understand what you are getting with swimwear designer Helena Fogarty’s swimwear, all you have to do is read the Mi Ola motto: “Be comfortable in your own skin. Be secure in your bikini.”
From the Mi-Ola.com website: “What you’ll find with Mi Ola is every seam, stitch, elastic and fabric has been tried, tested and approved. We want to make the best bikinis out there, and make you look really good.
Q: Describe your swimwear?
Mi Ola makes sexy bikinis that stay on. We bring style, high quality and functionality together into really cute swimwear that makes you look even better!
Our suits are bright and full of color. We’ve got awesome exclusive prints. You’ll look sexy and fashion forward in Mi Ola. AND you won’t have to worry about your suit revealing all when it falls down or shifts.
Q: How would you describe your own personal style?
I go back and forth between NYC and Costa Rica…so I’m a mix of sophisticated NY style and laid back, chill beach style.
Flip flops, bikinis and cut-offs near the beach.
High heels and form-fitting dresses in NYC.
Q: When did you first fall in love with fashion?
When I was 7, I had a killer Barbie collection, including some custom pieces made by a neighborhood lady. I’m fairly sure I replicated some of those wardrobe choices when I was singing in a punk band and living on the lower east side in NYC.
I found my Barbie suitcase recently and she was wearing snakeskin pants and a gold lame’ trench…and not much else. I said to myself “aha, I knew what was going on when I was 7!”
Q: What do you enjoy most about designing swimwear?
I make intelligently-designed swimwear that stays put. The best thing about designing it are wearing my creations and not having to worry about adjusting my suit, while still looking great. I’m also really happy when my customers tell me how Mi Ola has made the beach better for them. They don’t have to do the covert yank, tug and pull after playing in the waves, jumping into the pool, or any other beach fun.
Q: What’s your favorite new swim trend?
I’m a big fan of little bottoms. They make almost everyone’s tush look better than the traditional US diaper butt.
Q: Tell us a little about the inspiration(s) behind the 2014 collection?
Our inspiration for 2013 is the tropics and my backyard (when I’m in Costa Rica.) Bright saturated colors and prints inspired by the jungle, wildlife, and the ocean. (We even have a rocking Jellyfish print – the MEDUSA!)
Q: When designing a new piece, what do you draw inspirational from?
My inspiration is the happy, healthy, active woman, who is sexy in her confidence and who wants to be able to have fun at the beach!
Q: How do you get your ideas?
I’m a very visual person, so I’m constantly taking note of what I see – whether that’s the feathers of a parrot in my mother-in-laws backyard, stingrays in the water, or wildflowers growing across the street.
Q: What’s your favorite new style and why?
I really dig our new TIRA halter top and boythong. Both super sexy and engineered to stay on.
Q: What’s your all time favorite product that you’ve designed thus far and why?
My favorite has to be the Pin-up top – which is lingerie inspired and works well on all body types and our striped boyshort – it’s iconic and super cute.
When I wear the Pin-up top, I never have to worry about adjusting, or covering myself up – just in case my top has moved. It gives me peace of mind and looks great on.
The boyshort is cute and looks great on a variety of body types, as well. It also provides a bit more coverage for the ladies that seek that.
Q: Which other designers do you love right now?
Mara Hoffman makes the most delectable prints in the business! I’m also always a fan of Vitamin A.
Q: Why is it important that women wear swimwear that fits properly?
These small pieces of fabric have to do a LOT of work! So the bikini must fit or you gotta get rid of it! (You have no idea how many fittings we go through. For our first collection, it was about 15 to get the fit perfect.)
Q: When looking for models to represent your brand, what do you look for?
In addition to the obvious, I look for women who have a great personality and smile. Our brand is about having fun at the beach, not about sucking it in and pushing your breasts and tush out. It’s also imperative that our models are active, have muscles, – and are usually surfers.
Q: Fashion tip for this swimsuit season?
Buy the best bikini you can afford.There is a difference between well-made solid bikinis and those you can buy at H&M, which will fall apart pretty quickly and won’t provide support.
Also, try a smaller bottom. You’ll like the way you look.
Q: Tell us something interesting about yourself that most people do not know (the quirkier, the better!)?
I was the lead singer in 3 bands in NYC in the 90’s. Super pale, fire engine red hair and leather pants…this was before I started surfing!
Q: What’s one item you can’t live without at the beach?
SUNSCREEN. I’m of Irish descent!
Q: What upcoming events or plans do you have for your line?
We have so many plans! Next year, if all goes well, we’re hoping to open up a pop-up shop in NY or in LA.
After reading this swimwear designer interview with Helena Fogarty, make sure to check out the entire line at Mi-Ola.com