Growing up in Irvine, Nicole Di Rocco saw Cuba as a dream. Born to Cuban immigrants, Di Rocco soaked up her history through sepia-toned photographs, memories and the native language they shared.
Inspired by the vintage styles her parents grew up wearing, Di Rocco started Nicolita, a swimwear line, in 2002 upon graduating from USC.
Her latest lookbook for 2011 is inspired by Cuba of the late 1940s and '50s with hip-hugging, vintage-inspired styles in bright, candy-colored hues. Cabanas, white sand beaches and antique cars serve as backdrops for polka dot bikinis and strapless one-pieces.
"It wasn't until this season that I wanted to pinpoint that moment in time — the year 1949," she said about her 2011 collection. "I love the glamour and romance that people had during the '40s. Cuba was the playground for the rich and famous."
In 2009 President Obama lifted the embargo on travel for Cuban Americans, and Di Rocco realized that her time had come to travel to the country that served as her muse.