Swimwear with a message

Thai-American fashion designer Angelys Balek's new collection reflects on summertime vibes with a cakey twist

After the Candy Factory collection, Angelys Balek maintains her sweet tooth for Baby Icing -- the spring/summer 2021 collection -- which is inspired by colourful birthday cakes.

"Last April, during the lockdown, I celebrated my birthday with family in Phuket. It brought back childhood memories and the inspiration came like a piece of cake," said Angelys, whose eponymous brand is notable for its luxury beachwear.

However, designing and making swimwear is not easy because it requires understanding female figures and working with stretch fabrics. Since the native of Phuket loves to swim, she knows the needs of a swimmer. Hence, functionality is much considered in the design process.

The Baby Icing collection in bold colours reflects summertime vibes while taking cues from cake decorations with Swarovski crystals embellishing designs similar to sprinkles on a cake.

"I didn't use a palette of pastels because I wanted to splash contrasting colours that represent the grown-up and fun-loving me," said the Thai-American designer. "On the other hand, the precise placement of prints and other details reveal my addiction for perfectionism."

Puffed sleeves, drapes and ruffles add a vintage touch to the sexy beachwear while abstract paintings, collage and origami techniques and embroidery render eye-catching patterns that reinforce the brand's identity in wearable art.

Thai-American fashion designer Angelys Balek.

Angelys learned that everything around her can be made into art at Bangkok University's Faculty of Fine Arts. Her aspiration to become a designer then took her to the UK and the US to experience the world's fashion capitals.

At the London College of Fashion, Angelys explored her passion for fashion and shoe design. She then continued her studies at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York.

After presenting her ready-to-wear collection at New York Fashion Week in 2012, she put the AB. Angelys Balek brand on the map. Since its launch in 2017, the swimwear line has stood out in bold colours and unique prints with Naomi Campbell and Halle Berry among celebrities favouring the brand's one-pieces and bikinis.

Rolling out a full collection can be overwhelming and Angelys has paused the ready-to-wear pieces to focus on creating coveted beachwear and restoring her health.

"Still, we're doing three collections which encompass around 100 designs each year," she said. "I enjoy what I do as the creative director but I also have to be in the deep end of business administration and managing the brand is more demanding for me."

Nevertheless, her business has adopted a sustainable approach. Environmental-friendly materials such as recycled plastic, fabric created from regenerated nylon and knits from recycled fishing nets have been used to promote sustainable fashion.

Three years ago, Angelys went back home to Phuket where the slow life has helped her restore balance.

In addition, being near nature and the Andaman Sea has inspired her to take her sustainable swimwear to the next level.

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