Golden Opportunity: Friends to show Cote d’Or label at Swim Week

After just seven months of launching their Miami swimwear brand, friends Stephanie Theis Fajardo and Kevin Fitzpatrick will be showcasing their label Cote d’Or at Mercedes Benz Swim Week alongside some big names, such as Mara Hoffman, WildFox and Red Carter.

“We are a little nervous because it’s the biggest event we’ve done so far, but we are really excited because it’s a huge opportunity to put us on the map,” said Fajardo, 23, a University of Miami business and political science graduate.

She and Fitzpatrick, 36, have been friends for three years. They decided to create Cote d’Or (French for “Coast of Gold”) while sunbathing at the W Hotel in South Beach a year and half ago and failing to see any eye-catching swimwear on guests.
“We wanted to create a brand that was luxurious like gold, classic enough to wear season after season, but that also had an experimental edge with its cuts and prints,” said Fitzpatrick, a former sales associate for Louis Vuitton and owner of a club in Boston called Bijou.

Though neither had studied fashion nor had any formal training in design, their Mayan- and Azetc-inspired debut collection was a hit among celebrity fashionistas like reality TV star and designer Whitney Port, Kourtney Kardashian and model Jessica Stam. The duo are hoping a second collection called Aqua + Flor (“Water and Flower” in Spanish) will do just the same and attract more buyers.

Fitzpatrick said the new collection is inspired by two elements in feng shui: earth and water.

“We used a lot of bold colors and pastels in the line. To show the idea of earth we used a lot of flowers [such as] magnolias, palms and orchids. For our water representation we used a lagoon and pearls,” said Fitzpatrick

As far as silhouettes, the pair added an asymmetrical bandeau with a full sleeve that looks more like a top and underwiring to some of their bikinis.

The rest of their line consists of wrap suits, two pieces, cut-outs and special edition swimwear with heavy beading.

“The prints are what really make us stand out from other designers this time around,” said Fajardo. “We worked with a graphic artist, so it’s all about digital prints for this collection.”

Techniques such as blocking, fading and repetition of graphics on suits are prominent. At 8 p.m. Monday, July 23 at The Raleigh Hotel, the pair will present 15 designs in a group show consisting of AquaClara, Aquarella Swimwear and Sauvage brands.

Models will be clad in nude heels without accessories.

“Our suits are really overpowering, so we wanted to keep it minimalist,” said Fajardo.

As for hair and makeup, beachy locks and sunkissed bronze skin is the look.

Future plans for Cote d’Or include expanding into men’s and children’s swim and resort wear. Fitzpatrick also wants to add lingerie.

Cote d’Or retails from $180 p to $300. It is sold online and at South Miami boutique Jenna White.


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