The West Africa–raised Ballard resident pulls from experiences and inspiration soaked up while living in Hawaii during her teens. Her spare but classically tailored swim suits are available at Les Amis in Fremont and on Craft and Culture's online store.
Local designer Leah Lawrence's Drifting Arrows swimwear is thoughtfully designed and elegantly constructed, yeilding sexy and simple suits. And with this weather, you're probably just about ready to get into one.
In honor of Seattle's better-late-than-never swimsuit season, we chatted with the designer about her understated and classic collection.
How did you end up in Seattle?
Lawrence: My parents met in Seattle before they went to Africa and I was born. When we returned to the states permanently, we settled back in Seattle. I was here up until I started high school, which is when we relocated to Maui. Then, a few years after graduating, I decided to come back to Seattle, and I've been here ever since.
How do you think living in Africa and Maui influenced what you design and the Drifting Arrows demographic?
My time on Maui was a huge influence, as I was basically living in a bikini for all those years. I was also introduced to surfing there, and I was exposed to the "resort" lifestyle. When you live in a place like Maui, you get to enjoy these amazing resorts without all the travel and expense of actually staying at one. I think it was the combination of the beach culture and surfing lifestyle, as well as the luxury of these resorts, that really influenced my concept and designs. I love making pieces that you can live in and are practical, but I also love adding some pieces that are really elegant and make a statement.
What is your personal favorite of your collection?
I wear the Kure—a high waisted bikini—the most. When I am looking to soak up a little sun, I often pair the Kure top with the Maré bottoms.
What kinds of projects do you have in the works now?
I am working on the next collection, for 2013, which I am really excited about. I'll be introducing a whole new color palette and prints into the line.
What's your favorite thing about living in the Pacific Northwest?
I love having water all around me. I love all the different bodies of water we get to enjoy here, from Lake Washington to the Puget Sound. I live in Ballard and particularly love that area because it is like it's own little independent town. It's only a 15 minute drive to downtown, and you can still smell the ocean in the air.