If Lisa Marie had a choice, she’d be on a beach all year round. Whether it was somewhere in the Mediterranean, or Bali, or the South of France, or St Barths, she’d be lounging in a chaise in a silk caftan and nicely cut bikini, smothered in fragrant oils, with a glass of champagne in one and a cigarette in the other hand, watching her man cross the silky waves to shore on his yacht’s dingy. Beach, sun and love are just three of the things her South American genes can’t live without. And though she’s far too busy for this kind of round-the-clock bohemian life style, she’s made it a full-time business. In 2009 Lisa Marie Fernandez started an eponymous line of swim wear made out of a luxe neoprene. “We did loads of research before launching the brand,” she comments, “and not one company, not even the surfers, was making swim suits out of neoprene! The fabric has so many properties and textures it is the perfect product to take on the female form and give support.” She named the first few suit styles after her girlfriends – the Natalie is a best seller! – and slowly started experimenting with colors and cuts. Nearly two years later her swim wear line has expanded to a full collection, with neoprene skirts, dresses, pants and tops, and has singlehandedly catapulted the huge scuba trend of Spring/Summer 2011.
For 2012 Lisa Marie Fernandez is adding a flair of vintage to her line. Besides the signature neoprene she’ll be making suits out of 60’s and 70’s fabrics from Italy. “I’ve always been fond of the 70’s, from the clothes to the music,” she muses. “But I didn’t get into vintage until I started working in fashion, never as a teenager. I definitely go for the great, exquisite pieces. I am not the kind of girl who will go to a Salvation Army and pick through things. I prefer to shop at nicely curated stores and make an afternoon out of it.” Vintage makes part of her day-to-day wardrobe, without being retro – she hates that. She has a hard time describing her personal style because she loves so many different types of clothes though a few signature elements seem to prevail. Her style is “sensual, but not overtly sexy”. She is drawn to “strong, womanly clothes that are well made”. She loves high heels – “the higher, the better” – snake jewelry, classic handbags and high waisted bottoms. She prefers shopping in Paris over New York, and London for vintage. And her favorite designers are Celine, Hermes, Alaia, YSL, Balenciaga and Stella McCartney, to name a few. Elegance is key; trends optional.
It’s early May when I shoot Lisa at her apartment on 14th Street. And it’s getting hot. The first hint of summer has Lisa twirling with excitement. She’s barefoot and wears a vintage, silk, Zandra Rhodes dress. Her auburn hair is soft and loose and her skin a light shade of her year-round tan. In between outfits she plops down on the couch with her friend and hair dresser Miki, taking puffs of a Parliament cigarette and sipping coffee – it’s too early for champagne. She tells me about her love for Zandra, who in Lisa’s world embodies the essence of the bohemian, holiday life style she so yearns for. “I love the decadence of Zandra, the beading, the painted pattern and the sheerness. Zandra represents luxury to me, but in a lounging sort of way. I only wear Zandra when I’m on holiday, over my bathing suits, never in the city.” Or at home, right now, in the pre-summer oasis she just created. She shows me dress after precious dress, fervently collected over the years. That said, she is losing some of her fascination for the hunt and makes a dawning point. “There’s not much vintage left in the world. This is a fact. We have gone through all the decades and are not entering the future. The prices are outrageous – a great vintage piece will cost the same as a designer piece that will last longer and was probably inspired by vintage to begin with. So in my opinion, vintage has come full circle. Fashion now is about being modern.” And vintage will follow suit.