Exclusive: Charlotte McKinney's Guess Collection Will Leave You Thirsting For Summer

Plus: her advice for anyone for anyone looking to get out of the Instagram bubble.

If you haven't heard of Charlotte McKinney, prepare for her to be everywhere. You may recognize the model and actress from her appearances in Baywatch and Dancing with the Stars, her social media presence (she has an astonishing 1.4 million followers on Instagram) or from her gorgeous campaigns with Guess and Carl's Jr.

Now, McKinney is moving into the fashion design world—is there anything she can't do?—as the face Guess’ swimwear campaign and designer of the newest capsule collection, ICON. McKinney designed 12 styles for the collection, which goes live on March 14, and features stylish, feminine designs offered in leopard prints, flirty gingham, bold polka dots, and graphic stripes. Read McKinney's thoughts on her capsule collection, social media, and what's next for her, below.

What were your biggest inspirations when designing your swimwear capsule?

When I first started the design process, I wanted it to be authentic to me whilst keeping that Guess look we all love. So I drew inspiration from the ultimate beach babes, supermodel classics from the '80s and '90s. The colors, the styles, are all what I associate with the swimsuit icons, and therefore why the collection is also called ‘The ICON’.

What do you think of when you think of a “Guess girl”?

A Guess girl is the iconic beauty—it always makes me think of Anna Nicole Smith, Claudia Schiffer, Eva Herzigova. I remember when I was growing up and seeing these iconic and classic beauties.

So many people have watched your career flourish on social media. What is that like, and what do you say to others who may want to take an unconventional path?

Social media is an interesting part of life, and it's not all it looks like from the outside. Instagram is just an outlet to exude this image of what you deem as a perfect life. Just because someone has a following, doesn’t mean they are successful or happy. Instagram, sadly, doesn’t do the justice of showing all the hard work in your career. But where would we be without it? I have such a love hate relationship with it, being a private person but it plays such an essential part of my career. For those looking to take an unconventional path, I say take many paths. Now more than ever, there isn’t just one path to wherever you want or need to go. Explore as many options as possible, and don’t rely on one straight road.

What’s your favorite piece in the capsule collection?

My favorite swimsuit is the white and red stripe top and Brazilian bottom. It’s the ultimate classic bikini. You could wear it this year or in 20 years, and it will never go out of style.

This is one of many campaigns you’ve had with Guess, but this capsule collection is your first collaboration. What was it like to work on this Guess campaign?

To be working with the Guess family since age 17 has been nothing short of amazing, but the most rewarding has been designing my own capsule collection. There are so many times as a model you are just the canvas for someone else’s amazing vision and designs. But when I was asked to design my own capsule collection, it was literally a dream come true. I loved the process from start to finish, especially having full creative control. I was able to design the pieces exactly how I wanted, book my dear friend and amazing photographer Derek Kettela for the campaign, as well as have my favorite hair and makeup team do my glam. I hope everyone loves the designs and rocks them for many summers to come.

What’s coming next for you in 2019?

This year is off to an exciting start, I’m headed to Fiji next month to start filming the remake of Fantasy Island! I’m super excited to join such an amazing cast and to visit Fiji for the first time. I also just signed with Select Model Management in London which I’m excited for and so looking forward to spending more time in the UK this year, I love London! Let's hope the rest of the year is as good to me, and in the meantime I’ll be busy working hard.

Shop the collection now:

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Amanda Mitchell

Amanda Mitchell is a writer and podcaster with bylines at Marie Claire, OprahMag, Allure, Byrdie, Stylecaster, Bon Appetit, and more. Her work exists at the apex of beauty, pop culture, and absurdity. A human Funfetti cake, she watches too much television, and her favorite season is awards season. You can read more of her work at amandaelizabethmitchell.com or follow her on Instagram and Twitter @lochnessmanda.