Lily Aldridge.

Courtesy of Solid & Striped

Lily Aldridge isn't just one of the world's most in-demand models. Now, she's also a fashion designer, thanks to a new collaboration with the swimwear label Solid & Striped. The brand recruited 13 models in total—including Jourdan Dunn, Isabeli Fontana, Elsa Hosk, Carolyn Murphy, Barbara Palvin, and Toni Garrn, Jessica Hart, and Josephine Skriver—to design their dream swimsuits and appear in an accompanying campaign, which was shot over two sun-drenched days on Harbor Island in the Bahamas. But Aldridge in particular stood out from the dozen others, and not just because she's something of a swim pro, as a Victoria's Secret Angel and Swimsuit Special model—not to mention a three-time star of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue: She was the only one who decided to bring along her mom, as well as her five-year-old daughter Dixie. (Her husband, the Kings of Leon frontman Caleb Followill, on the other hand, stayed at home.)

Unsurprisingly, revisiting that "super weather" was a welcome experience in February, when Aldridge and the rest of the Swim Team came to New York for a dinner to celebrate the campaign on Tuesday night. That was also true earlier this week when Aldridge was in a car line to pick up her daughter from kindergarten at home in Nashville—at long last getting the opportunity to open up about the project that last year had her "thinking, How am I going to wait until February 2018 to talk about this?"

Did anyone else bring their kids on the trip to Harbor Island, like Jourdan Dunn and her son Riley?

I was actually the only one, but it was such a fun girls trip for her and everyone. All the models were babysitting Dixie when I was shooting, and she just loved it—she thought it was so cool. She thinks we’re called "modelers," so she was constantly like, "oh my god, the modelers." From the start, when we flew in with Josephine [Skriver] and Toni [Garrn], she just couldn’t believe the "modelers" were there. And honestly, they were all so sweet—there’s actually lots of moms that are part of the Swim Team.

Did you get to hang out with the rest of the "modelers" on your own, too?

Yeah, we had so much fun. Harbor Island is beautiful—the water’s really calm and crystal clear, and the beach, which has this really soft, pink sand, is just miles long so it’s breathtaking. I knew most of the girls already, so since we're all friends, it was just a really great group of us having fun, especially because the shoot was so laid back since there were so many of us—you’d shoot for 30 minutes and then go hang out with your friends on the beach, swim in the ocean, and relax. And I really bonded with the girls I didn’t know well, like Hailey Clauson and Hannah Ferguson—they were both so incredibly sweet with Dixie. But my mom did stay in and watch her one night so we could all hop on golf carts to go to dinner.

You’ve modeled in so many swimsuits, which can often be so uncomfortable. I imagine it was nice to take charge in the fit for a change.

It was really fun to design and create something myself, and just to work with someone like Carine [Roitfeld], who styled it, and also to create the pictures that go along with it for the campaign. We started making prototypes last January, and I wanted to stay authentic to Solid & Striped, but that wasn't a problem because I love the brand—they’re very sporty and cool, I think my suit is a perfect mix of chic, sporty, and sexy. [Laughs.] I love the cut-outs and I love that it’s a one-piece. I just wear it with cut-off Levi’s and it’s a cute outfit. But I also actually really loved all of the other girls’ designs—it was cool to see how their approaches all ended up really lining up with their personalities, whether sporty or sexy or classic.

Are you a big beach person in general?

I’m a total beach person. I don’t know why you would live anywhere where it’s cold ever. I love vacationing and getting ready for a beach trip, and the whole fashion of it, from sunglasses to your suit to your sarong.

Lily Aldridge in the Solid & Striped campaign.

Bjorn Iooss

Since Valentine's Day is coming up, have you been thinking of any dream destinations?

I always love going to the beach, and I especially love Turks and Caicos. If I got a surprise trip there, I would not say no. [Laughs.]

In the event that doesn't present itself, what are your Valentine’s Day plans this year?

I don’t know, I should get on it! We usually just have a romantic dinner somewhere or we’ll stay home and cook. This is my daughter’s first year where she gets to bring valentines to school, so she’s extra excited about it. We’re going to start making them this weekend.

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