Karen Mulligan, of the Annie Leibovitz studio, and Jill Demling, the Entertainment Editor for Vogue, are on a moonlighting high these days. The creative force behind this sun season’s hottest new swim line, the pair have put swimwear — too often a derivative area of design — back on the fashion radar.
Though the ladies decided to forgo this spring’s New York Fashion Week—“We are still a very new brand and are focusing our time, energy and finances on developing the best product we can,” explains Demling — the gals of Pret-à-Surf were out and showing love for fellow New York designers including Rag and Bone, Peter Som, and Band of Outsiders. “It’s all about supporting our friends and the designers we admire,” says Mulligan.
And, like the labels they hold in high esteem, Mulligan and Demling are the generators of the new vision of “cool,” showcased on the racks of cult boutiques including Opening Ceremony. Pret-à-Surf is inherently hip with the pop relevance to separate it from standard floral or polka-dot printed suits; meld that with classic sensibilities apparent in cut and corresponding silhouette — ever so flattering — and you get a swimsuit that will see you through season after season of chic use. As Demling says, the design is all about “fit and function. They look great on land but fully function in the ocean.”
Wanting to create a line more Deborah Kerr/From Here to Eternity than Bond Girl, the duo lent on their natural fashion sense and set out to fill a perceived gap in the market. “We work and live in the fashion capital of the world, so there is no way not to be influenced by fashion,” Demling reasons. “We started the line because we didn’t see anything out there that could bridge our desire to be active but look good at the same time.”
With warm weather soon on its way, a fashionable and practical alternative to the dreaded monokini is a welcome development in the world of swimwear.
Below, the filmmakers divulge how they made Pret-à-Surf’s, La Prochaine Fois (The Next Time), a sun-kissed love affair, worthy of an eternal summer.
Sexy and flirtatious are the first words that come to mind after watching the video. How important was it to show the sex appeal of the designs for this active wear line?
Sex appeal is very important. Just as Jill and Karen have designed the pieces to be both sexy and functional, we wanted to not only showcase the variety of styles, but also show how they can be interpreted when you are actually wearing them. Every guy thinks surfer girls are sexy!
Why create a video campaign? What does it communicate that print images can’t?
Involving a brand in a visual storyline like film is a great way to bring the pieces to life. They are structured narratives and what we are doing is creating interesting stories where the brands play a vital role in the unravelling of that narrative. Everyone’s still going to do look books and the basic in-your-face shots of hot models wearing their brand—this is original and much more thought-provoking.
There’s definitely a story there. How important was the Hampton’s backdrop to the narrative?
Choosing a location includes many variables. Proximity, budget … essentially, though, is that we know the area well. This particular location provided us with a non-descript remoteness that we needed. The location to us needed to be just as much of a character as the Girl and Guy were.
On models, why Elsa Hosk for the part of the Girl?
Elsa was great for this campaign because she is an All American girl. By the end, you really believe she could pick up a board and jump in the surf. Plus her eyes were absolutely perfect for what we needed visually. When she looks into the lens at us, she holds you … and looks beautiful doing so.
The film actually ends with a close up of Elsa’s eyes looking into the camera, which confuses things a bit. After watching her watch the Boy and waves with equal interest, it’s impossible to figure which she is actually after. Why the cliffhanger?
Haha … well, that’s what it’s designed for. I’m a big believer in leaving the audience with their own ideas as to what happens next. To have an opinion, and not be spoon fed everything is in essence what a film should give you. I love it when people really get heated over a movie and characters. I say to them, well the film did its job then, it made you really feel something … it made you form a very strong opinion.
Any plans for a sequel?
We’d love to continue it. That’s part of why we like keeping the film’s ending open-ended. It always leaves the possibilities of either continuing the story where it left off, or taking the characters to another storyline.