In February, we traveled to Playa del Carmen in Mexico for a winter vacation. It felt so good to be in the 85 degree weather, and to see the ocean again!
I wanted to create a photo collection that showed all the images that inspired me to create my Spring/Summer collection for this year.
We have been to Cancun a number of times, but this area - about 45 minutes south of Cancun - is completely different. Cancun is all about the beach, Playa del Carmen is far more tropical and jungle-like. As soon as you move inland, you find a lot of greenery and dense forest everywhere.
It is part of the Maya Riviera and is a lot more eco-friendly than Cancun with animal sanctuaries, protected native areas and hotels that are more sustainable than traditional hotels. In fact, I was pleased to find that there was almost no single-use plastic used at our resort - all our water came in recyclable glass bottles or washable plastic cups, along with organic recycling of food waste.
I just loved the green foliage, and I started getting ideas for palm frond and succulent prints on floaty chiffon fabrics.
Another one of the amazing features of this area are all the rocky cliffs that overlook deep lagoons and rivers. Every morning from our hotel room, we could see a boat taking people on a trip through the river that winds through the jungle and mangrove swamps.
You can even take a trip to swim in the water inside a cave - if you're brave enough (I wasn't)!
There was an incredible variety of animals including birds, monkeys, iguanas, alligators and panthers roaming wild in the jungle. The birds were so incredibly colorful, and we even saw a Coati - a cute little racoon that eats tarantulas!
Of course there were also a gorgeous array of flowers that gave me so many ideas for shades of fabric colors.
I created some custom colors based on what I had seen in Mexico, and am planning to hand-dye some natural fabrics to make wrap skirts for my new collection.
I found a beautiful cotton/linen blend that is gorgeous in white but I'm also going to dye it a jungle green.
My custom color palette:
Now that I had an idea of the solid colors I would be using for the collection, I started to look for some prints. I had images in my mind of long, flowy dresses with palm and flower prints, so when I got home I immediately began searching for fabric.
I had the idea to look at the fabrics on Spoonflower, the digital fabric printing website. Spoonflower has thousands of designs by independent designers, and I did find a number that I felt really captured my memories of the jungle and the beach.
Most of them were by a fabric designer in Hawaii, Karen Dyson, from Indian River Textiles. You know someone who lives in Hawaii is going to be all about those tropical prints!