As a designer, July 29th, 2023, will forever be etched in my memory as a monumental milestone in my creative journey. The culmination of months of tireless effort, sleepless nights, and boundless dedication led me to the runway at San Diego Swim Week, where I unveiled my very first collection to the world. This experience was a rollercoaster of emotions, pushing me beyond my comfort zone and inspiring me to craft what I truly believe is my best collection yet.
The road to San Diego Swim Week was paved with endless hours in the design studio, meticulously iterating samples and meticulously selecting fabrics that would bring my vision to life. It was during these moments of solitude and creativity that the Hermosa and Torrey bikinis began to take shape – each piece a testament to the elegance, sophistication, and timeless beauty that epitomize the essence of swimwear. The Hermosa, adorned with fringe detailing and vintage gold hardware imported from Italy, exuded an alluring glamor that left a trail of elegance in its wake. The Torrey, a chic and strapless two-piece masterpiece, was elevated by gold hardware from Italy and an Infiniti band on the bottoms that spoke volumes about its design ingenuity.
But the collection did not stop there. The Solana dress, a breathtaking floor-length piece crafted from deadstock ivory lace, captured the hearts of onlookers with its sensuous silhouette that could be worn forwards or backwards. The Brisa Skirt Set, a harmonious pairing of a top and skirt constructed from deadstock chenille fabric, resonated with a sun-kissed, beachy vibe, accentuated by the real gold ring details on the straps.
As the runway show date drew near, my days were consumed by model castings and meticulous fittings. My assistant, Lauryn, and I made sure that each outfit and look was carefully curated to reflect the individuality and spirit of the models who would bring them to life. The privilege of showcasing my designs on Fox 5 news was a surreal experience – my creations featured in a morning news segment, a first for my brand on daytime television. It was a taste of the recognition that was to come, fueling my determination to make the runway show an unforgettable success. Watch Fox 5 San Diego Swim Week 2023 Segment Here
On the morning of the show, my nerves were palpable. The weight of months of preparation hung in the air, mingling with a sense of anticipation and excitement. With the dawn, I began my day by meticulously steaming each piece, double-checking every outfit, and ensuring that accessories were impeccably matched. With a total of 16 models and an array of exquisite creations, the backstage atmosphere was a whirlwind of activity – a perfect blend of chaos and artistry.
The capsule collection I presented at San Diego Swim Week embodied a vision of sustainability and exclusivity. Crafted from vintage and deadstock fabrics, each piece was a testament to my commitment to conscious fashion. The Solana dress, with its versatile silhouette, encapsulated the essence of adaptability and elegance, while the Brisa Skirt Set celebrated the beauty of handmade craftsmanship.
(Brisa Skirt Set)
As the lights dimmed and the runway awaited, I could feel my heart racing with a blend of nervousness and exhilaration. The moment had arrived, and the models gracefully walked the runway, each outfit telling a story of style, confidence, and empowerment. The audience's reaction was nothing short of overwhelming – a symphony of cheers and applause that resonated deep within me.
(Torrey Bikini in Aqua)
In the whirlwind leading up to the San Diego Swim Week runway show, amidst all the meticulous planning and preparations, an unexpected yet exhilarating moment emerged. Just 48 hours before the spotlight would shine on my debut collection, I found myself crafting a bespoke dress that would tie together the entire ensemble and collection. Without a pattern or a sketch, I embarked on an impromptu journey of creativity, resulting in a breathtaking gown that I would wear during my finale walk to epitomize the spirit of the collection.
(Founder, Darbe, pictured during her finale walkout in bespoke lace dress)
Participating in San Diego Swim Week as one of the few designers of color added an extra layer of significance to this journey. It was a statement of representation and diversity, a reflection of my commitment to breaking boundaries and challenging norms within the fashion industry.
In retrospect, the nerves, the chaos backstage, and the sleepless nights were all integral parts of this remarkable experience. They pushed me to transcend my limits, to create a collection that is not only a reflection of my creative vision but also a testament to the dedication and passion that define me as a designer.
As I look back on that fateful day, I am reminded of the transformative power of creativity, perseverance, and the unyielding belief in one's own potential. The SS23 collection at San Diego Swim Week will forever be a reminder of the beauty that can be born from dedication, and the profound impact that pushing beyond one's comfort zone can have on both personal growth and artistic excellence. I am incredibly grateful to the founder of SDSW, Eyga Mojus, for this unforgettable opportunity.
(Eyga and Darbe in the Hermosa Bikini during the SDSW closing Pool Party at the Pendry)
Special Thanks to @XiZengPhoto for capturing these runway moments.