L'OFFICIEL - My life in style: Kalita Al Swaidi

L'OFFICIEL - My life in style: Kalita Al Swaidi

The Ibiza-based designer of the fashion set’s favourite summer dresses was raised in London, where an exotic upbringing at the heart of Texan-Iraqi family informed life dedicated to style and fashion. 
On growing up:

‘My father is Iraqi and my mother is from Texas. My paternal grandfather was the prime minister of Iraq and my father had had to leave the country during the revolution. I think because my parents were not English, I never attached myself to that very British aesthetic.

I never quite felt like I fit in because my parents were super different. They dressed differently, they spoke differently, they entertained differently. They and their friends were very elegant and glamorous, with long kaftans and silks and jewels. I definitely inherited a love of sensuality and colour and playfulness from them.’


Kalita al Swaidi

On finding my way in fashion:

‘A girlfriend of mine got married when I was much younger. I knew her through my older brother. I wanted to find her a beautiful wedding gift and I was walking down Portobello Road one day and found this beautiful old lace. It was the 1990s, around the same time that Agent Provocateur’s tie-side knickers had been in Vogue and I decided to make her a pair of antique lace knickers with blue silk bows at the side – ‘something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue’. My mother’s seamstress made them up for me. A shop on Kensington Church Street ended up ordering more pairs and suddenly me and my knickers were in Harper’s Bazaar!’

On resort wear:

‘I'd always had this dream of creating a resort wear label. I used to do all my summer shopping in the little markets in Sardinia, in Positano, in Saint Tropez. Little lace camisoles to wear with a perfect pair of old Levi jeans. The perfect little silk slip dress to wear with a big piece of statement jewellery. So, I started to design my signature resort dresses. I got picked up by Purple PR very quickly and they put me into their press day. Matches was my first client.’ 


The Otto Beach Dress - a new season favourite


On living in the sun:

'I became quite lonely in London during the pandemic and I realised that I was always happiest on holiday. I moved to Miami for a while. I like the Latin music vibe, the whole Latin thing. I love to be in the sun every day and how happy people are. I’d always adored Ibiza and decided to give it a soft landing for a few months. I found a house I loved, a car I adored and met an amazing man. I guess it was meant to be!’

The Jay Dress in Sunset Orange

‘Ibiza has a raw, rustic vibe that has always attracted me. The sandy roads, the beaten-up cars, the tanned and dusty children. Being barefoot. Being free. Eating watermelon on the beach. I have my go-to places – La Paloma I have loved since day one. I could eat there every day. Sardines and tomato salad on the beach at Chiringuito Pou des Lléo. The flea market at San Jordi for treasure hunting and people watching. The Agora for a little fix of curated fashion. Bar Anita for lazy morning coffees. Primal Moves for my daily workout and sunset road trips with my boyfriend on his custom Harley Davidson. Anywhere that echoes those slightly lo-fi, laidback sensibilities that drew me here in the first place.’


Ibiza has a raw, rustic vibe that has always attracted me... Being barefoot. Being free. Eating watermelon on the beach.

On my style signifiers: 

‘Good gold jewellery! I wear a lot of rings – Jessica McCormack, Jade Jagger, a very sentimental one commissioned by parents from Kinvara Law that is engraved with the words ‘to the moon and back, you are our shining light.’ Aside from jewellery, I would say my style signatures are bare nails, tanned skin, the perfect white tee from either Sunspel or Rag and Bone and a pair of vintage Levi’s or Brunello Cuccinelli boyfriend jeans. And I never wear my hair down.’

Kalita Al Swaidi in the Newton Beach Dress in Olive Green

Read the full article, and find out all the island goings on at L'Officiel Ibiza