As seen on WWD I Swiminista Collaboration with Christian Lacroix

Christian Lacroix Returns to Swimwear, Collaborates With California’s Swiminista

Andréa Bernholtz, creator of the swimwear brand, incorporates Christian Lacroix’s bold patterns into her eco-friendly designs, which launch in October.

Christian Lacroix has made collaboration a major element of its marketing strategy, led by chief executive officer Nicolas Topiol, following the exit of the French luxury label’s founding couturier.

“I tend to like to put the brand in places that is sometimes unexpected,” Topiol said.

That was certainly the case in 2007, when Christian Lacroix designed a festive, limited-edition bottle for French mineral water brand Evian. Years later, Diane von Furstenberg, Elie Saab, Kenzo and Alexander Wang followed suit.

“We were really criticized for it,” Topiol continued. “A couture house designing a 2.50 euro bottle was, to the French, something unacceptable. But I knew Evian was a really premium brand outside of France. It ended up being a super successful collaboration.”

The project was a hit financially, though collaborations aren’t always as fruitful. But monetary gain isn’t Topiol’s only measure of success.

“Sometimes it doesn’t work,” he admitted of partnerships. “But for us, it’s also to be able to reach an audience that we don’t necessarily talk to.”

For years, the brand — founded in the late Eighties and now owned by the Falic Fashion Group — has focused on the home, stationery and gifting markets, while putting women’s wear on the back burner. But more recently, Christian Lacroix has been showcasing apparel by aligning with various contemporary brands, introducing the label to a younger audience.

It entered streetwear by collaborating with China’s Uooyaa and ath-leisurewear via a collection with Los Angeles’ Ultracor. There was also a women’s wear line in partnership with Hong Kong’s Anaïs Jourden at Paris Fashion Week; one with Britain’s Rixo, debuting a “baroque-meets-Nineties” fusion at London Fashion Week, and another with sustainable Danish label Blanche, which premiered at Copenhagen Fashion Week earlier this year.

Now Christian Lacroix is revisiting swimwear (the brand previously worked with France’s Maison Lejaby) with California-based Swiminista, a luxury, eco-friendly label. Like previous collaborators, its designer Andréa Bernholtz — Rock & Republic’s cofounder and former president — is incorporating Christian Lacroix’s bold colors and patterns into her own brand DNA. Swiminista caters to women’s needs while using recycled fabrics made with plastic bottles (even the panty swimwear liners are compostable).

“It’s really problem-solving swimwear done in a chic, eco way for women,” Bernholt said.