the Insiders


June 30, 2011 4:26 PM


Summer Fridays Swim: Milly by Michelle Smith

With its bright colors and prints, Milly by Michelle Smith has become synonymous with Palm Beach prep -- an aesthetic that made the collection a natural fit for swimwear....

With its bright colors and prints, Milly by Michelle Smith has become synonymous with Palm Beach prep -- an aesthetic that made the collection a natural fit for swimwear. michelle.jpgIn 2000, after three years in Paris (where she interned at Hermes and Christian Dior), Smith debuted the eponymous Milly by Michelle Smith collection. She added swimwear to the lineup in 2004 to fill what she describes as a "a huge void in the market for beautifully designed swimwear at a contemporary price point."

"Everything at the time was either very expensive designer swimwear, over $400, or lower-end, mass-produced, rather boring stuff," Smith told WWD, adding that her custom-made print lend themselves well to swimwear.

With its Spring 2011 collection, Milly -- named after Michelle's own nickname -- is celebrating a decade in fashion with a Madison Avenue flagship, a new accessories lineup and the "Milly Minis" collection, giving aspiring Milly lovers (aged 2 to 7) the opportunity to dress in the same clothes as mom, even on the beach.

Here the designer, who counts Gwyneth Paltrow and Victoria Beckham as customers, talks family, design inspirations, the return of the one-piece and favorite beaches.

What is the biggest mistake you think women make when choosing a bikini?

Proper fit is very important. Nothing looks worse than a bikini that is too tight or too loose.

Is there a swim style you find universally flattering?

One-piece suits elongate the body and slim the waistline, and hide a multitude of sins.

millyonepiece.jpgWhat is your favorite bikini you've ever worn and where did you wear it?

I love my Milly Cabana "Positano" bikini with bamboo trim. I've worn it everywhere- Il Pellicano in Porto Ercole, Sardinia, Anguilla, Southampton, even Positano.

What is your favorite beach in the world?

The pink sand beach on Harbour Island - so quiet and unspoiled.

What do you think is an iconic moment in bikini history?

Bridget Bardot traipsing around St. Tropez in the 1960's - what a bombshell!

The one piece - yay or nay?

A definite yay! Maillots are making a comeback.

What are your beach day essentials?

Blue Lizard Sunscreen, C.O. Bigelow Mint Lip Gloss in Bare Mint, ice cream money and of course my kids. They are what makes a beach day fun.

millybeachabg.jpgWhat is the ideal beach bag?

This spring, I made a large canvas tote with a sailboat embroidered on the front. It is so roomy and perfect for throwing all my things, plus the kids' toys, in there.

We love the idea of matching mother/daughter bathing suits. Why did you decide to add Milly Minis to the collection?

My darling daughter Sophia inspired me. She is four years old, and loves colorful bikinis! I think it was a natural progression to make children's swimwear -- little girls love to dress like mommy.

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