It was nearly show time as designer Francesca Aiello snapped pictures backstage of models in her latest swimwear designs. This was Frankie's Bikinis' debut show for the 19-year-old designer at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Swim in Miami Beach, but Aiello is a pro when it comes to social media.
"I was nervous at first ... of all the attention. But I'm excited," she said before posting the photos on Instagram and Twitter, where her brand started just a couple years ago and has since taken off.
She is the youngest designer to ever present at the shows in Miami Beach, organizers said.
Aiello (pronounced ah-YELLOW) is a California girl who grew up wearing bikinis in Malibu. With help from her mom, she'd launched the swimwear line by age 17.
"I don't know how to sew, but my mom does and after her first attempt didn't work out, we began our trial and error process of finding the people to help make the right bikini," she said. The pair found a pattern maker and factory in Los Angeles where the pieces are now made.
"They're not stopping me because I'm only 19," Aiello said. "I've always said that it's really important for young girls to know that they shouldn't let their age stop them."
That carefree attitude is present in her (now) third swimwear collection, with bohemian designs and suits in lavender, blue and bright orange.
"I'm always watching the girls on the beach," she said of her inspiration. "I wanted to make suits for every girl."
Her collection fuses the Hawaiian shoreline with southern California style in feminine and flirty pieces with low-cut bottoms and revealing crochet designs. Bikini tops with crisscross backs are ideal for the beach lifestyle and the surfer girl.
Aiello embodied the surfer-chic look as she took to the runway after the show in a white crop top and pants, her long dirty blonde hair bouncing off her perfectly tanned shoulders.
The line can be purchased from online sites like ShopBop and from some boutiques.
Next for the designer: expanding the brand to include clothing that can be worn in places other than the beach — and keeping up those social media posts.
"It's also important for me to share big moments with our followers," she said, "because some of them have watched our company grow and I think it's just as exciting for them as it is for me."