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Raised in Boston, Massachusetts, LA-based swimwear designer Lisa-Marie Pascuccio graduated from high school early at 16 and swiftly decamped to New York, where she began modeling. After city-hopping from Miami to Milan (with a brief stint in Asia in between), Pascuccio found herself in the City of Angels and attended FIDM in DTLA. There, she became fast friends with classmate Alana Ault, and the two took a leap together and launched sexy swim brand Lee + Lani.
Five years later, the LA Fashion Week showstopper's barely-there bikinis and risqué one-pieces have graced the beach bodies of celebs (Jenna Dewan-Tatum, Eva Longoria, more) and LA blogstars alike. "[We] really wanted to bring the European feel and that sexy Brazilian cut to the US, [and] everybody was a bit scared of us at first," she says. "But now, everybody is like, 'How sexy can we get?'" Next spring, Lee+Lani is set to debut its first ready-to-wear collection at Revolve Clothing, Nasty Gal, and more online retailers.
We caught up with Pascuccio (who also models her brand's merch) at Liquid Juice Bar on Melrose, where we pressed the designer on her favorite hot weather getaway, her ultimate swimsuit icon, how she gets that serious beach bum, and much more.
What are you drinking today?
I picked the Powerhouse; it had a lot of stuff and it seemed like it was good for me—kale, E-3, and spinach, so why not?
What's the first thing you do when you wake up?
Is it really sad to say I pick up my phone the first thing? One eye open, I'm looking at my emails, usually hoping Alanna hasn't texted me to meet her at Downtown yet. Then I break out Instagram and I waste ten minutes on that.
One-piece or two-piece swimwear?
Two pieces. I'm all about the little itsy-bitsy black bikini: Sexy, simple, very comfortable, clean lines.
Favorite beach getaway?
I went to Tavarua in Fiji last March, it was the most amazing and beautiful experience ever. I was never not in a swimsuit the entire time.
Nickelodeon or Nick At Nite?
Nick at Nite. Actually, it's embarrassing—to this day, I have to fall asleep to Nick At Nite. I think they started playing Friends and Everybody Loves Raymond, but I was a big I Love Lucy fan back in the day.
Least favorite fruit?
Papaya. I'm a big fruit person, I need watermelon, raspberry, strawberry, I eat it all. But papaya I'm not crazy about.
Ultimate swimsuit icon?
I have to say Eva Longoria. She wore our stuff GQ and her body, everything about that, amazing. She's the most gorgeous thing I've seen.
Guilty music pleasure?
I'm into Doo-Wop! Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, anything from that era reminds me of my mom. It's feel-good music and I love it, and I usually dance [and] cook to it.
If you weren't a designer, what else would you be doing?
Fashion and traveling and food are my passions in life. So if I wasn't [a designer] I'd be a food blogger. I've always looked up to Anthony Bourdain, I wanted to the female [version of him] so bad.
Halloween is next week! Do you have a costume in mind?
I haven't even thought this year. Last year's costume as Leeloo from The Fifth Element and before that I was Mia Wallace from Pulp Fiction, so how am I going to top my last two, I'm not sure! Maybe Miss Alabama from True Romance, it's my favorite. But she's blonde and I don't know if [that color] compliments my face—we'll see!
What's your beach body workout secret?
I started getting really into Cardio Barre and Barre Method and I have to say that's the only thing that's actually transformed my body completely. I mean, my ass raised like two inches when I was doing it. So if you want a beach bum, do that.
· Lee+Lani Swimwear [Official Site]
· All A Juice With Posts [Racked]
· Sara Riff Makes a Mean Pasta, Won't Dance to '80s Music [Racked]
· Cameron Silver is a World Traveller, Enjoys In-Flight Action Films [Racked]
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