It was a cowl neck, haltered midi dress in a tropical fish print. It might have been the design of Vetements, or even Fashion Nova, but one thing was certain: It was everywhere. From the Clermont Twins to Charli Howard, the fish dress was quickly reeled in by fashion’s top tastemakers.
The latter clarified her endorsement: “A dress made from recycled plastics & NatGeo photos gets my vote any day,” she captioned a mirror selfie in the Infinite Resort look. Post this revelation, the Water dress transcended its mere cool factor to become something else entirely: a signifier of sustainability support that is frankly much more inspiring than that ‘save the ocean’ badge. With one bodycon dress, designer Romina Cenisio had mobilized a cult of cool-girl environment campaigners.
Bridging her backgrounds in conservation and design, Cenisio’s first Infinite Resort styles consisted entirely of recyclable materials. The recruitment of National Geographic photos was an additional appeal to consumers. This is what you’re protecting with your purchase, it implied. From lush forests to kaleidoscopes of butterflies, each wildlife scene is more hypnotizing than the last.
Read our conversation with Cenisio about conservation, hyper-creativity, and why you don’t need stacks to be sustainable, below.
You’ve garnered huge support for Infinite Resort, tell me about its inception.
The idea had been developing in my mind for quite some time—I was actually getting a second bachelor’s degree in biology and studying to be a wildlife veterinarian; I was designing on the side to pay for school. Eventually, my design career took off, but I’ve always had this other side to me that’s passionate about conservation and science. I wanted to fuse these worlds and
create a project that connects us to nature using powerful visual storytelling. I had this idea to create a virtual travel platform, so naturally I wanted to use the power of National Geographic images with my design background. After lots of sketching and research, I started reaching out to the photographers with my idea—when I started to hear back from them with their excitement,
I knew I was on the right path.
How did you select and recruit Nat Geo photographers?
I’ll start off by saying how inspiring this process was. I first reached out to NatGeo directly, where they sent me an archive to their entire database of published images. I sifted through them for days, trying to find the most profound ones that I felt told a story while also being visually beautiful for a dress. After narrowing down my favorites, I found each of them and reached out directly. Luckily, I have a pretty large portfolio, so that probably helped, but somehow I secured four incredible photographers to work with me! I’m still honestly in shock—for an Earth science nerd like me, I can’t believe I got to work with such profound photographers. I’m truly so thankful for their trust in me to bring this project to life. Andy Mann, Stephen Alvarez, Bruce Omori, and Frans Lanting—thank you!
What was your relationship to the fashion industry prior to creating Infinite Resort?
It’s been a long and winding road. I started with small but powerful brands where I’ve been able to flex all my creative muscles. I find my process to be all encompassing and like to work as such—design, styling, branding, and creative direction all go hand-in-hand, so to be able to visualize an entire landscape I would say is my strength. I’ve worked with everyone from Nike and Rihanna to Kenzo and Alexander Wang. It’s definitely more difficult when you’re not doing one “niche” thing because you can’t be placed into a box and really promote yourself, but I’ve learned I’m a hyper-creative and this is what I need to stay stimulated and contribute to making significant work.
What’s the process behind manufacturing clothes from recyclables?
Basically, plastic bottles are recycled, melted down, and re-spun into filament that is then turned into fabric. Not only is it recycling bottles, this process is much more eco-friendly and uses less water than other manufacturing. There are brands that sell this fabric by the yard; it’s accessible to everyone. It’s breathable, drapes beautifully, and is super-resilient. And it can be recycled all over again if need be. This can essentially create a closed loop system where we can forever recycle plastic to make more materials. I think it’s so important for people to know this is possible.
What do you think modern fashion is still missing in terms of sustainability?
I think it’s missing style diversity, as in a lot of it tends to look the same. That’s why I wanted to create something that was visually striking as well as sexy. It can be dressed up or dressed down with sneakers; I’m already so inspired seeing the way different girls have worn them. The tee and hoodie are also important, because I think it’s touching on this topic of making something that’s typically not “cool” and turning it into something people want to wear. The hoodie literally says Earth Day Is Everyday, and the tee looks like you got it at your local science museum. I think that money privilege is something we need to touch on as well.
Sustainable fashion really should be affordable to everyone, and even I, someone who comes from no money, no investors, and funded this on my own, realized the difference in cost to make anything eco-friendly. It’s actually why I put this off for so long; I literally didn’t think it would be possible for a non-rich person to do something sustainable. However, I think this is something that will change as demand rises. It’s still really new, so the possibilities are endless. But I think it’s important to continue and catalyze this conversation so everyone knows that yes, you can make a difference. All of us making a tiny difference in the way we live can make a huge impact on the supply and demand chain.
After this capsule, can we see Infinite Resort evolving into something bigger?
What are your hopes for the brand?
Yes absolutely! I think what people are having a hard time grasping is that this is really something larger; I’m calling it a multimedia platform, for lack of a better word. Infinite Resort is a creative platform rooted in conscious travel and exploration of our planet. This week, I released my first travel video and travel zine, which revolve around the border of El Paso-Juarez—my hometown and where I shot the lookbook. What I’m really trying to do is create impactful visual storytelling tying nature to something fun and adventurous. I truly believe in the power of media to help save the world, and I want to create something our generation can relate to. My hopes are to push the talk on conservation and create something that reaches a lot of people. The short-term goal is to create a miniseries about conscious travel; the long-term goal is to turn Infinite Resort into an actual eco-friendly beach resort. A girl can dream, right?!