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cover Laura Urbinati

text Antonia Ruggiero

June 21, 2019

Roman Summer

From the beaches of Ostia to those of Los Angeles: beachwear by Laura Urbinati, the Roman designer with the sea in her heart

Summer is here. In fact, it has exploded.

Actually, when the first two piece was launched in 1946 it was compared with the atom bomb and christened bikini after the Bikini atoll in the Pacific Ocean where the atom bomb had been tested just a few days before.

From the explosion of the bikini to today there has been an evolution in swimwear which, even if it’s no longer the scandalous garment of 70 years ago, is still as seductive as ever. 

Laura Urbinati creates swimwear characterized by an effortlessly sophisticated, minimal chic style that combines precise design and simplicity. 

“Being sexy is an attitude, it doesn’t depend on a bigger bra size or an extra-highcut leg. Black outlines the body but a white costume is much better for a slimming effect”.

Like the Tilda style, named after actress Tilda Swinton, star of Luca Guadagnino’s A bigger splash, a remake of the celebrated La piscine. 

“Luca is a friend; I also designed the costumes worn by Dakota Johnson for the film. I love working with artists and friends like Daniel Minaha and Candela Pelizza, who has become one of most-followed fashion bloggers”. 

Her swimwear is entirely made in Italy in a workshop near Mantua, with prints made in Como. But it’s not just about fashion, there’s more: a special aesthetic sense of respect for the female body, for its shapes and naturalness, without resorting to artifice.

“My costumes are fashionless. A niche style that does not follow fashions, is timeless and nothing to do with trends. The very word gives me the shivers!”

Inspiration from the worlds of art and design is reflected in the way she plays and experiments with colour and prints. The influence also comes from her father, constructor and modern art collector, Giulio Urbinati. 

“My father passed on his great love of art to me, he was interested in surrealist artists, conceptual and minimalist art. An incredibly eclectic, passionate man”.

Her Rome boutique is located in Via dell’Oca, a discreet, cosmopolitan street that between the ‘60s and ‘80s was the street of artists, writers, poets and art galleries.

“A street dear to my heart, with an old-world charm that is difficult to find in Rome nowadays. Via dell’Oca has remained the same, with its intimate atmosphere. Its strategic position, just behind Piazza del Popolo, means it has always been the favourite haunt of artists”. 

Like a grain of sand, her career is linked to summer and the beach.

It was at the storied Gambrinus Beach in Ostia, owned by her family and frequented by the international jet set, that the just-18 year-old Laura had the idea to create her first designs. 

“I practically lived at the beach, and just for fun I began to dream up designs for swimwear. The whole of Rome came to Gambrinus, from Audrey Hepburn to Walter Chiari, Giorgio De Chirico, Patty Pravo and Gianni Agnelli, who would arrive in his helicopter. Beach beauties like Pilar Crespi and Stella Pende inspired my very first creations”. 

Everything began with a Roman Summer. 

Persuaded by Roberto D’Agostino and Dario Salvatori, Laura Urbinati opened Renato Nicolini’s Roman Summer fest. “I had 4 of my friends as models: we opened the first evening. It was a real stroke of luck!”. 

From Ostia to Los Angeles, where she sells her swimwear to stars like Nicole Kidman, Diane Keaton, Sofia Coppola and Angelica Huston. There isn’t a single idea of woman, but of all of them. All those real, genuine women who do not play at being what they are not. “Women who love small things, who follow their own dreams and their own identity”. 

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