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June 17, 2011 11:45 AM

Summer Fridays Swim: Tori Praver

She's tall, blonde, statuesque and Hawaiian -- so it's only natural that model-turned-designer Tori Praver's world would revolve around bathing suits....

She's tall, blonde, statuesque and Hawaiian -- so it's only natural that model-turned-designer Tori Praver's world would revolve around bathing suits. torip.jpgFrom a young age frequenting the beaches of Maui, Praver was in love with beach culture -- citing bikinis as part of her daily wardrobe. After being discovered as a model at 13, her relationship with swimwear turned into a professional one. The Maui-native and avid surfer was named the face of Billabong (a natural combination) and reached mass acclaim after being named the face of Guess. She then put her years of bikini-wearing to use, landing on the pages of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue three times.

The next natural step: start her own bathing suit line. And Praver did just that in 2009, with the debut of her eponymous collection, Tori Praver Swimwear.  

Praver's experiences as a model only served to further her design career. Being exposed to endless amounts of travel, different cultures and fittings not only inspired the beauty's designs, but helped her understand how the right cut of bathing suit can really make a difference.

And who better to hire as face of the brand than herself? Because honestly, what swim brand wouldn't want to have a three-time Sports Illustrated girl as its model?

Here, she talks favorite hideaways, retro bikini styles and beach must-haves.

You got your start as a model. How has this shaped your business and affected your design sensibilities?

toripbikini.jpgBeing a model was a great advantage for me considering the relationships I had within the industry. It also gave me great insight to world of high fashion, which was also very inspiring when starting my collection.

Is there a swim style you find universally flattering?

I think the classic triangle bikini top looks great on every woman.

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

Thinking that more coverage is going to hide more. The reality is, the right cut for your body type is going to make the biggest difference in how you look and feel in a suit.

How did you segue from model to designer?

I have always wanted to design my own bikinis. I grew up in Hawaii and always had a passion for swimwear, as it was a part of my wardrobe almost every day.

Which style in your collection would be your go-to bathing suit?

The Kalani is my favorite style. I always pack one with me whenever I travel. It's a great classic triangle style paired with the most flattering bottoms.

What is your favorite bikini you've ever worn and where did you wear it?

I wore a crystal bikini for a Sports illustrated Swim shoot in Maui a few years ago. It was literally made of all crystal and really beautiful.

What is your favorite beach in the world?

There is a little beach in the town where I grew up in Maui called Napili Bay. It's where I would go as a child almost every day. It has calm crystal-clear water - a total paradise.

Tori Praver Swimwear Mary Jane Suit.jpgWhat do you think is an iconic moment in bikini history?

Sandra Dee as 'Gidget'. I love a great retro style bikini and Gidget symbolizes my two greatest summer loves - chic swimwear and surfing.

The one piece - yay or nay?

Yay! I love a good one-piece. The Mary-Jane is my favorite from my collection.

What are your beach day essentials?

A great bikini, floppy hat, H2O, and sunscreen!

Tori Praver Swimwear is carried at retailers nationwide including Barneys, Saks, net-a-porter, Shopbop and Anthropologie. For a full list of retailers visit toripraverswimwear.com.

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