If you haven’t heard of Tori Praver your boyfriend probably has. The blond bombshell from Hawaii has appeared in Sports Illustrated three times, and is a former Guess? girl. But if you’re in the market for a new bathing suit you’ve probably come across Tori’s name, too. The Maui native launched her eponymous line of swimwear in 2009. Her suits have earned a following because they’re versatile–from sexy one-pieces with cutouts to high waisted cutesy floral bikinis–so you don’t have to look like Tori to look good in them. But it helps that she can model her own lookbook.
Here’s what Tori had to say about modeling, designing, and bathing suit malfunctions (yes, they happen to her too).
Fashionista: Is it true you never wanted to be a model? How were you discovered and why did you ultimately decided to start modeling?
Tori Praver: It’s true. I always wanted to be designer. I wanted to go to design school in California before moving to New York City when I was 18. When I realized that I could have a career in modeling and travel the world, I took advantage of that opportunity.
A lot of models try their hand at designing after working as a model and being exposed to the industry, but you wanted to design before you became a model. What appealed to you so much about design?
I love fashion and especially swimwear. Growing up in Hawaii, I have amassed a vast collection of bathing suits–I have between 40 and 50–and always knew that someday I wanted to start my own line and create bikinis that I loved and wanted to wear.
How did being a model help you get into design?
I have met so many amazing people throughout my career, from photographers to editors to stylists. I think it has a been a great advantage to have these relationships and have influential people in the fashion industry inspire me.
What’s the last place you’ve traveled that inspired you? Where do you want to go next?
I go to Bali every summer and it never fails to inspire me in so many ways. I would love to go to Africa next. It’s the only continent I have never traveled to and it’s a dream of mine to explore it someday.
Any plans to expand beyond swim?
I would love to do a line of beach bags and hats one day. Maybe even sunglasses or jewelry!
Most embarrassing bathing suit story?
I would say the many times I have gotten out of the ocean from surfing and not realized that my top had fallen and my breasts were showing. Woops!