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The Original Marla Muse


 For our first journal entry, we decided to speak to the original Marla Muse, our mother, the inspiration behind Marla Swim. Her love of travel and beautiful Brazilian bikinis was instilled in us at a young age, and what gave us the dream of wanting to create our own swimwear range and to one day share that tradition with our children. 

Born in Cape Town, with Portuguese heritage, we have grown up travelling to some of the world’s best beaches from Copacabana in Brazil to the extensive coastline of the Algarve. Our mum’s love of travel and Brazilian swimsuits had us sisters dressed in high cut cheeky bikinis from a young age. Each family vacation we purchased a new swimsuit, a tradition which still continues to this day.

When did you get your first swimsuit, that you chose, and what style & colour was it?

That was such a long time ago now, but I would have to say that I was about 15 years old when I got my first swimsuit, it was a bikini, blue with white stripes on the top and the bottom. But my real love for beautiful swimwear didn’t really happen until I was in my late 20s to early 30s when I was working in the airline industry and was able to travel a lot, especially to places like Brazil and Portugal to visit family.


What colours do you look for or are your favourite when choosing a swimsuit? Why?

I generally don’t go based on a colour, I go by what the style and fit is like as that has always been important to me, it needs to fit well and feel comfortable.


Can you remember your favourite bikini/swimsuits that you, what style and colour was it?

I do, it was a beautiful green one piece that I got a lot of wear from, it had stripe cut outs on the side that would show some of your body.


Why did/do you love Brazilian swimsuits – what about them attracted you to their style? 

The Brazilians knew how to make good swimsuits, they led the trend in unique styles. Back then, the G-String bottom was very much in fashion, the fit was flattering, gave you confidence and made you feel sexy when you were in the beach. Brazilian women always seemed to have confidence at the beach, it didn’t matter their size they appeared to love their body shape, that was nice to see. 



What do you look for when you go bikini or swimsuit shopping? Flattering styles, perfect for tanning, colours, fabric, quality?

I’ve always gone for style and quality over anything else. The fit needs to be right, but also minimal tan lines.


You dressed your daughters in bikinis from Brazil at a young age. Why and what was it that made you dress them in bikinis that were very different to what people were wearing in South Africa at the time?

The Brazilians were making a lot of swimsuits for toddlers and older children at the time, their range was so different and unique to what was in shops in South Africa back then. They made children’s versions of the adult bikinis which I thought was cute and very different.


Is there a feeling you get when wearing beautiful swimsuits?

It’s all about how it makes you feel when you are on the beach, it needs to give you confidence and to feel good about yourself. I think this is important but also to have fun with it.


Is quality fabric important to you when choosing a swimsuit/bikini? Who makes the best quality bikinis/swimsuits in your opinion and why?

Quality fabric is definitely nice as the feeling is important but style and fit are what I look for first.

Back in the day the Brazilians used to lead the way with the swimsuit fashion, but now I think a lot of countries in Europe are taking ownership of this, like Italy, Spain and Portugal. Portugal has a beautiful range of swimwear.  


You’ve always enjoyed getting a nice sun tan but skin care is also very important to you. How do you combine the two and what was important about your swimsuit/bikini to achieve this?

Yes, I’ve always enjoyed getting a nice tan but sun care is very important. I always wore SPF lotion and made sure I had a higher factor for my face and under the eyes. I made sure this was the same for you girls. In summer in South Africa and Portugal, we used to spend a lot of time at the beach so it was important to make sure that we were all wearing a quality sunscreen. I also made sure that we had an umbrella as well so there was always shade from the sun. 

It’s important to always look after your skin at any age, but especially as you get older. This is something I have tried to instil you girls, when it comes to skin care to make sure you spend money on purchasing quality products. 

As I’ve gotten older, I go to the beach either in the morning or afternoon when the sun is at its weakest and for shorter periods of time. I’ve always liked to wear a swimsuit that has flexibility in how you can wear it, pulled up higher or worn lower on the bottoms, with adjustable or removable top straps as I’ve never liked having tan lines. 


When you and your daughters went on holiday over the years, what was it about buying a new swimsuit each time that made it become somewhat of a tradition?

For me it was always about spending time with you girls. It was fun going shopping, trying on different swimsuits and making a day of it. I also liked that we were always wearing the latest trends and could look back on photos of us in those bikinis and remember the moments. 




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