A few years ago London-based Carine Rizzi did something many fashion lovers dream of: After years working as a software engineer and project manager, she enrolled at the London College of Fashion with dreams of becoming a designer. In 2010, the dream became a reality when she launched Carizzi, a luxury swimwear label. Made in France with top quality Italian fabrics, Carizzi celebrates the designer's Mediterranean roots and long summers spent in picturesque Provence. The label exudes European glamour, recalling the spirit of the '90s supermodel era, with its glam hardware and bright prints (designed in collaboration with London-based designer Nova Chiu for S/S 2014 and Canadian designer Hamideh Abol for the upcoming S/S 2015 season). Most importantly, every swimsuit is designed with utmost respect for a woman's body, concentrating on exceptional fit and comfort, with attention to every minute detail. A great swimsuit from Carizzi is a well-worth investment.
What was the most memorable swimsuit fashion moment of your childhood?
There are so many! And they're such happy memories. Perhaps a key thing for me was how my mother used to make beautiful swimsuits out of crochet and liberty prints for my sister and me. I remember those times with pride and fondness. Being half Italian, we used to go on holiday in Italy to visit our family near Rome. There, I always admired those beautifully stylish Italian women turning men's heads. Then came the supermodels of the '90s -- I loved Cindy Crawford in her swimsuit shots.
What made you start a swimwear company?
I grew up in Provence, by the French Riviera, in the south of France. We have the longest summers there and we can start wearing swimwear from March until end of September. For as long as I can remember, I have always been attracted by summer: it's a happy season. It's the time when the family gathers for outdoor lunches and barbecues under the olive trees. During those long hot summers, I loved wearing swimwear and enjoyed the water for as long as possible. There's a sense of freedom swimwear gives you. It's an enjoyable experience being so close to the elements. It isn't often that we get to wear swimwear, and when we do we should make the most of it. So I decided to create a brand clearly focused on shapes and quality that women of all ages would be happy wearing, Instilling comfort and confidence so that we can enjoy every minute of summer. Now that I live in London, it also helps me reconnect with the long summers of my childhood.
Swimsuits are some of the most feared garments by women. Can you offer any tips how to make the shopping experience more enjoyable?
Shopping for swimwear should be a little like shopping for a bra. To feel confident, the swimwear needs to fit well and stay put all day long. Also pay particular attention to the fabric: a good fabric is quick drying, has a dense elastic weave so that it hugs and flatters the body. Pick fabrics with a high elastane content (typically Lycra over 15% is good). These will really help to enhance your body shape and give you that extra bit of confidence.
Try bikini separates instead of bikini sets. Just like everyday clothes, some shapes and cuts suit our bodies more than others so choose a brand that allows you to mix and match bikini tops and bottoms. That way you ensure you have the most flattering shapes for your body type. Avoid being tied-in to a fixed bikini set. Swimwear should be a liberating experience not an intimidating one.
Should we be building a swimsuit wardrobe? What are some styles every woman should own?Definitely. Having a mix of shapes, colours and prints will help you make the most of beach and pool time. Diversity is the key.
It’s fun picking out the vibe/spirit of an occasion, for example a yacht party might call for a more intricate design or cut. The focus could even be cultural e.g. the vibe in St Tropez is very different to that at the Copacabana or Ipanema. The occasion could be as simple as beachside vs poolside so variety in your swimwear wardrobe just gives you more options to play with. A simple place to start is with colours, black/neutral tones will work for a more ‘dressed-up’ look.
What has been a career highlight so far?
When Carizzi appeared in an editorial of the British publication of Marie Claire.
What’s next for Carizzi?
The importance of shapes is our signature so we will continue work on perfecting existing shapes as well as adding more. I want to start looking more at cover-ups, and applying the same approach of using flattering shapes as the basis for them. We'll start to experiment with more fabric types, ensuring that we don’t compromise the support our swimwear offers.
We also need to increase our brand awareness and reach out to agents internationally so that more people can see and try our swimwear.
Describe your dream beach vacation.
I love Brazil for its happy and laid back attitude but also for its flamboyance. My dream beach vacation would have a bit of everything really, a mixture of fun and relaxing time with friends, good music as well as a good book.
Carizzi is available on carizzi.com.