I first met the creative force behind Mona Swims, Carla Johnson, in Dublin in June of 2019. The fabulous Jo Lyons brought her to meet me at my hotel, as Jo, rightfully, thought Mona Swims was a great fit for Lesetta. I spent a wonderful morning with Carla trying on her kimonos, capes and sarongs. We had a great visit about her background, inspirations and travels.
Carla studied Textile Design at NCAD in Dublin, and after graduating in 2006 Carla moved to London, There she worked and designed prints for the fashion industry all over the world. She started Mona Swims when she began spending much of her time in Ibiza, Spain. She set out to create beautiful and distinct swimsuits and handmade silk cover-ups that radiate an effortless elegance through voluminous silk.
"There is a running sea inspired theme throughout my collections."
When I asked Carla about the inspiration for her Collections, she explained that they are are all inspired by her love of travel. She said, “There is a running sea inspired theme throughout my collections, my signature vivid, abstract prints combined with desire, moods and cultural setting.” She went on to tell me, “My signature prints are usually inspired by different types of skins or sea shells from the oceans depths - shining fish scales, cool damp sands, iridescent flashes - that are all ultra-wearable, and are either monochromatic or with a sophisticated colour palette.”
Mona Swims is named after the dark siren borne out of Irish folklore, Mona. Her first collection, Suijin, was influenced mostly by Mona’s mysterious world. “a land of icy seas, rough tides, Oceans depths, desolate beaches and dramatic, rugged coastlines.” She continues to be inspired by the intricate beauty of marine life. Her newest collection is inspired by her time spent in the Amazon. “UIARA is a river Siren from the Amazon. Based on ancient Tupi and Guaraní Mythology, she was a snake spirit, also known as 'Mother of the waters’. The Prints are inspired by water creatures found in the Amazonian River…The Caiman Crocodile, Moray Zebra Eel, and the Cobra are all found there”.
"Silk is her favorite medium and that she likes to experiment with different silks that effect the drape and movement."
Carla explained that Silk is her favorite medium and that she likes to experiment with different silks that effect the drape and movement. When asked about technology in her work, she explained, “My print designs are a combination of hand painted and photographic imagery combined digitally and then pinned digitally directly onto Silk. Digital printing technologies are by nature more sustainable than traditional methods, and they offer a way towards clean and efficient manufacturing.”
These modern and versatile statement silk kaftans and sarongs are perfect for parading at the beach or integrating into arresting daywear. The unique dramatic style of the Mona Swims Collections offer the sophisticated, fashionable woman an alternative to your basic bright print “beachy”cover-ups and are certainly not your grandmother’s silk scarf. They feels great to wear and are stunning to look at. Carla feels “My prints are wearable art and I feel they should be worn to make you feel your very best.”