It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when “boho” became such a contentious term, but when Paula Hermanny drops it into conversation to describe her bikini-centered line ViX, she’s quick to clarify. “It’s a bohemian touch,” she says. “Not overwhelming—not like fringe everywhere and camping out.”
Perish the thought. Hermanny, who hails from the coastal city of Vitória, Brazil, knows the difference between kitsch and cool. She credits her paternal grandmother, Joana, an artist/sculptor/ceramicist, for introducing her to luxury brands like Hermès, Courrèges and Céline. “She was very elegant,” says Hermanny. “She spoke four or five languages, traveled to Europe to shop and would pick flowers in her garden and make these beautiful arrangements. I was very inspired by her.” Her maternal grandmother, Izaura, who sewed wedding dresses, had an eye for style too. “If she was working on a piece and it wasn’t perfect, she would start all over again. I didn’t appreciate that when I was younger; I’d think, Oh God, it takes so much time to do one thing. But now, as a businesswoman, I recognize that attention to detail is critical.”
When Hermanny, a former professional bodyboarder, decided to move to the U.S. in 1989, she knew that she couldn’t leave the beach behind. After spending her single days in Pacific Beach, she now lives with her creative director husband, Zé Burity, and two children, Luca, 8, and Sofia, 10, in an airy La Jolla, California, Spanish-style home only two blocks from the beach. “My life is about balance—spending quality time as a family and staying connected to nature,” she says. It shows: Her home is a study in bringing the outdoors in. Fresh blooms, seashells and coral are her decor accents of choice, while dark wood pieces, patterned kilim rugs and comfy overstuffed white couches create a relaxed atmosphere. Even the colorful patterned textiles that adorn her kids’ walls manage to feel subtle. "Sometimes Sofia will ask for a purple wall with neon and I’ll have to say, ‘No, no. Mommy went to India, and look at the amazing fabrics I brought back for you!’"
As fate would have it, La Jolla, a seven-mile strip that clutches the curvy Pacific coastline, ended up providing Hermanny with not only sunny weather and 70-degree days, but also the inspiration for ViX. “In Brazil, going to the beach is a lifestyle. Your whole weekend is planned around it. But here, I noticed, people would go for a specific reason—to tan, to play volleyball. All of my friends in La Jolla would just grab a towel and put on a boring bathing suit.”
Hermanny made it her personal mission to change that—to bring a bit of the Brazilian passion for the praia to the States. Today, ViX offers not only swimsuits but casually elegant pieces including bright carryalls and cover-ups stylish enough to wear out for an after-sun caipirinha. Her current Carioca collection takes its cues from Rio de Janeiro. "’Carioca’ is a word to describe a native of Rio," explains Hermanny. The pieces are based on the city’s rich architecture—its tile work and arches and aqueducts—as well as its musical heritage. “Rio is the birthplace of bossa nova—my Rudá Aqua Tri Detail bikini was inspired by the strings of a guitar,” says Hermanny.
When it comes to Hermanny’s style, she gravitates to the organic and unfussy—a chemise dress with 3.1 Phillip Lim d’Orsay flats is her unofficial uniform. After all, though she’s the globe-trotting head of an international resort line, she’s also a mom who surfs, practices yoga and meditation, and does her best to make it home from the office in time to help her kids with their homework. "Of course, I have work challenges and stress," she says, "but when you love what you do, you can do it forever."