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The Woman Behind the Resortwear Revolution: Karen Ruimy

If you haven’t heard of The Queen of Kaftans yet, you soon will. Karen Ruimy is the founder and creative mind behind Kalmar, a resort wear label both you – and your suitcase – need to know about.

Though Kalmar ( started out with kaftans, in just two years, the label’s expanded to dresses, jumpsuits, and accessories – with beauty next on the beach-ready agenda.

“My aim with our designs is to make women feel themselves and at ease,” Karen explains, “to connect with their sense of identity and, as a result, they will feel a sense of wellbeing.”

Here, we speak to Karen about the hero pieces for SS19 season (run, don’t walk), and her seven hacks for building the ultimate holiday wardrobe.

Read on for the Kalmar way of life…

What’s the story behind Kalmar?

KR: I was born in Morocco where everything opens you up to the five senses, so I became very in tune with nature, colour, and scents. Therefore, for me, wellbeing is central to good living and the ethos behind Kalmar. I launched Kalmar in 2016 selling a range of transeasonal kaftans in silk, which have become a signature for the brand. We’ve evolved with new styles and colourways throughout the last two years, but also added other resort wear staples like dresses, jumpsuits, trousers, and shirts, which you could wear in Marrakech, or in London. The designs are versatile for both beach and city.

How would you describe the brand?

KR: I’d say Kalmar represents self-love, empowerment, discovery, and joy.

How do you want women to feel when they’re wearing Kalmar?

KR: When you’re wearing a kaftan, it gives a sense of comfort and grace and sensuality. Kalmar kaftans and cover-ups feel incredible to touch and just flow around you, making you feel like a Queen.

What are the hero pieces to know about for RT19?

KR: The Kehlani Dress is a maxi dress with an airy, romantic silhouette, while the Stella Dress comes with a fabric belt, which can be worn loose or fitted from day to night. They’re both summery dresses that are super-feminine – you can dress them both up or down and wear them anywhere in the world.

What can we expect from Kalmar’s SS19 season?

KR: The collection features two contrasting yet complementing patterns: the pebble print and the stripe. Stripes have evolved into a rainbow print for SS19 with positive colours like red, pink, orange, yellow and blue. The pebble print, a bit like an animal print, is extremely classic and chic and super-versatile for the city.

How does your Moroccan heritage inspire your designs?

KR: For me, Morocco is all about tradition, design, art, culture, incredible colours and amazing hospitality. Creating kaftans takes me back to my childhood in Morocco where women embraced the beauty of these creations. I always thought the epitome of femininity could be found in the gorgeous silks and colours worn by Moroccan women. I was always impressed by how comfortable they looked, and I believe that when a woman is comfortable and self-assured in a piece of clothing it really shows in her demeanour.

What are your top tips for exploring Morocco?

KR: Moroccan people are very welcoming so I think you need to experience their hospitality and see their way of life to really enjoy this country to its fullest. I highly recommend a trip to the Atlas Mountains where it’s possible to wander through the villages, meet the Berber people and eat delicious local tagines. Explore the Medina in Marrakech and discover the city’s way of life, but also try and spend a night in the desert outside the city walls – it’s a magical experience. For art and fashion lovers, the city of Fez offers fun arts and crafts, and Yves Saint Laurent’s Jardin Majorelle in Marrakech is not to be missed – try visiting early in the morning for maximum peace. Finally, near Taroudant, one of Morocco’s oldest medieval cities, is a beautiful hotel called the LaGazelle d’Or, which is a stunning oasis of calm.

Click here for a full weekend guide to Marrakech

What’s next for Kalmar?

KR: I’ll soon be unveiling the Kalmar Beauty range – a wardrobe of products created to give you the power to connect to a moment of sacredness. Developing a beauty range is a long process! One of the main aims was to create a sort of antidote to our modern lives that have become busier, more complex, and more technology-driven. Representing four key senses – Joy, Peace, Calm and Love – the products allow you to realign and connect to the moment. Like all Kalmar products, the intention is to transmit a sense of wellbeing.

Give us your top Kalmar tips for building a resortwear wardrobe to-die-for?

KR: I think the key to a good resort wear wardrobe is to allow for versatility and functionality..

1.I suggest two kaftans in different prints and fabrics (cotton and silk for example), which can be styled with a belt and dressed up with jewellery.

 2. Two pieces of swimwear are probably sufficient: a stylish one-piece and a bikini.

3.Go with one pair of sandals that can be paired with every look and taken from day to night.

4.Always pack a soft, practical bag that’s easy to fold, and a pouch which can also be used for beauty products.

5.Loose pants are a versatile piece that can be worn under a kaftan or with a tank top for a more laidback look.

6.Jumpsuits are an easy-to-pack, one-piece item which you can accessorise up or down with a belt, jewellery, heels or flats depending on the occasion.

7.Remember you can usually shop for amazing costume jewellery, sunhats and straw bags on arrival at many holiday destinations – it’s always a great experience.

To shop the full Kalmar range, click here

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