La Belle Rebelle’s booth alone—its light-up sign, sick graphics, and loud music—were enough to catch our eye at the Swim Show trade show during swim week in Miami. Inspired by a combination of 1960s/1970s rock ‘n’ roll nostalgia and ultra-girly ephemera, designer Fabiana Silberstein named her sugary-sweet pieces after classic rock songs and employed carefully-selected prints for each of them: pastel florals, a candy-and-ice-cream patterned print in yellow, brightly-colored guitars, vintage beach scenes. The silhouettes—high waists, balconette tops, and classic tank one-pieces—are incredibly vintage, but the details are contrastingly contemporary—wood buttons, smart color combinations. The Montevideo, Uruguay-born Silberstein is actually based in Miami, where swimsuits are appropriate all year round; as such, all her tops can be paired with high-waist shorts and morphed into adorable daytime gear. Keep an eye out for more from this one!
MONICA USZEROWICZ - Where did you grow up and how did your upbringing influence your aesthetic, if at all?
FABIANA SILBERSTEIN - I was born and raised in a very small, almost unknown country named Uruguay. Rock and roll is by no means something that gets associated with my country, but being seventeen and in an attempt to be as rebellious as humanly possible, I started checking out the little grimy rock and roll-ish joints and slowly getting into independent music, film, and other art forms. That is something that, almost subconsciously, translates into my designs and overall aesthetic.
MU - When did you first begin drawing and designing—what made you fall in love with fashion? Did you study fashion design, or are you self-taught?
FS - All I ever did before La Belle Rebelle was styling and merchandising related. I did have a short and quite frustrated affair with fashion design in 2005, but our relationship didn’t work out. Thankfully, seven years later I decided to get over the break up and gave it another try. When it comes to fashion design I’m completely self-taught, though I do have an academic background in merchandising and editing.
MU - Describe your creative process, focusing specifically on the actual design.
FS - Everything starts with picking and choosing fabric swatches; then I start drawing the silhouettes—high-waisted and bustiers are a must!—and start matching which shape would look good with which print and that’s pretty much how it goes! Of course, the Rolling Stones will be blasting in the background. Always.
MU - How did this collection get going? You were wearing one of your own designs when I met you and you told me about your line; the first collection was launched not too long after.
FS - After designing, manufacturing, building the website and shooting in my dear ol’ native South America, I came to Miami to promote the brand at the Swim Show, where the collection got very good exposure and feedback. Thanks to that, people started talking about it, posting about it, tweeting about it, Instagraming about it, and basically getting the name out there through as many social platforms I can think of!
MU - That was a really great event to time with the launch, if that was the plan.
FS - Definitely! Miami is one of those glorious places where a swimsuit is required almost on a daily basis—except for that one week of winter where it gets slightly cold—so it looked like an appropriate venue to first launch the collection. And it was a good decision.
MU - Old school rock and roll, Bianca Jagger, the beautiful groupies if the ’60s and ’70s: I see this aesthetic influencing your work. Tell me more about this.
FS - I think there’s no better feeling than to feel like Mick Jagger’s girlfriend when you walk into a room. So why should that change when you walk onto the beach? I feel like that old-school, covered-up silhouette is far more sensual and attractive than many of the shapes we see nowadays, and I’d love to see that back-in-the-day look get back to the beach.
MU - Your works are extremely girly, but undercut by something tough. Can you tell me about that combination?
FS - I’m so glad you notice this! La Belle Rebelle is really those two sides that inhabit every girl; you want to be young and free and wild, but without losing your femininity. So I guess the brand is the result of those forces coming together to create this powerful, rock and roll femme fatale that stills holds the doors and always says “thank you” and “please.”