the Insiders


August 12, 2011 12:01 AM


Summer Fridays Swim: Undrest

For Maria Paz Navales, designer of Undrest, what started as a lingerie line in 2007 soon evolved into a swim and ready-to-wear collection....

For Maria Paz Navales, designer of Undrest, what started as a lingerie line in 2007 soon evolved into a swim and ready-to-wear collection.

marianovales.jpgAfter two years producing high-end innerwear, Navales launched Undrest by the Sea, the brand's swim extension. The designer, who counts her time living in Rio de Janeiro as a major inspiration, viewed the new collection as a way to fill the void for Brazilian cut bathing suits in the market.

One of the bigger draws of the brand is its focus on local craftmanship and sustainability. Navales produces the whole brand in an 8,000 square-foot studio in East Los Angeles, personally sourcing local cotton and trims and traveling the world in search of fabric -- including the British Liberty prints that have become a signature of the brand.

"I have a deep love and appreciation for the art of business. I photograph, design, and creative direct the entire brand and am on site daily in the atelier working hand in hand with my team of pattern makers, seamstresses, and production sewers to bring the cultures and styles of the world to you through the designs of Undrest," said Navales, a San Francisco native.

The brand operates one free standing flagship for Undrest by the Sea in Venice Beach and is stocked at retailers worldwide including Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie, Victoria's Secret, Intermix, Galleries Lafayette,, and The Ritz Carlton hotels boutiques, amongst others.

Here Navales talks Brazilian bottoms, the beach in Buzios and her beach must-haves.

How did you get your start in swim design?

I've never been a fan of American silhouettes in terms of bikini bottoms. I was initially inspired by the Brazilian cut bikini bottom when I lived in Rio de Janeiro. This inspiration caused me to launch Undrest Lingerie in 2007, and then I evolved the collection into swim in 2009.

undrest1.jpgWhat is the biggest mistake you think women make when choosing a bikini?

Choosing large, bright, prints with too much fabric coverage on the bottom. Large prints make the wearer's body look larger than they actually are and too much coverage on the bottom can lead to unflattering, excess fabric sag on the backside.

Is there a swim style you find universally flattering?

A waist cinching, strapless maillot in the color black made with really thick Brazilian nylon fabric.

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

My signature Knitted Zig Zag string bikini in any of the colors. I always get stopped while on the beach and get asked who my suit is by as the colors and zig zag print are very eye-catching and unique.

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

My favorite bikini is a black and white chevron Signature Knitted zig zag suit. I wore it all over the Cote d'Azur.

What is your favorite beach in the world?

Buzios, Brazil.

undrest2.jpgWhat do you think is an iconic moment in bikini history?

Brigitte Bardot in Buzios, Brazil.

The one piece -- yay or nay?

Yay, doubles as a bodysuit!

What is your ideal beach bag?

The Sac de Plage Zig Zag beach tote with French leather handles from my bag line, "Undrest Artifacts."

What are your beach day essentials?

Maison Michel straw hat, Undrest Artifacts "Sac de Plage", 2L of Smart Water, SPF 50 for my face, olive oil for my skin, black kohl liner for my eyes, mini Serge Lutens perfume in Rose, gold aviators, Cartier love bracelet, my sketchbook and a Pilot #2 pencil.

How would you describe the Undrest girl?

Preppy and a Luxe Bohemian
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