A Night at the Chateau With Pamela Anderson and Frankies Bikinis
Earlier this month, Pamela Anderson and Frankies Bikinis dropped a 22-piece collaboration including a red swimsuit reminiscent of the actor’s iconic role on Baywatch, as well as a playfully illustrated tank top inspired by the her love of nature and romance. Before celebrating the star-studded launch of the nostalgia-packed collection with cake and cocktails at Hollywood’s Chateau Marmont last Friday, Anderson got on the phone with fellow Malibu girl-turned swimwear designer Frankie Aiello to discuss the beachfront inspiration behind their powerful yet feminine collection.
PAMELA ANDERSON: Hi there.
TAYLORE SCARABELLI: Hi, I’m Taylore. Nice to meet you.
FRANCESCA AIELLO: Good morning.
SCARABELLI: Where is everyone today?
AIELLO: I’m in L.A.
ANDERSON: I’m on Vancouver Island in the rain.
SCARABELLI: Oh my gosh. I’m a Canadian girl also. My mom’s from Port Alberni.
ANDERSON: No way. I was trying to get somewhere else and I almost ended up in Port Alberni yesterday. Everyone’s like, you can’t get lost on Vancouver Island. It’s like one long road, but I find I can’t drive. No sense of direction.
AIELLO: And it’s been pouring rain here too, so you haven’t missed anything.
ANDERSON: It’s a good thing. My roses are happy.
ANDERSON: I can’t wait to come out. I can’t believe I’m driving.
AIELLO: You’re driving?
ANDERSON: I have to bring Dinosaur back to Brandon, so I don’t want to put him on a plane, so we’re driving the pitbull back. It’ll be a nice reunion because it’s been almost a year.
SCARABELLI: Is L.A. where you both met?
AIELLO: Yeah. I grew up in Malibu with Pam’s sons, Brandon and Dylan. Malibu is so tiny and so different from what people think. Pam was always around and kind of an icon in our community. She couldn’t be missed driving around in her white Range Rover picking up the boys from junior lifeguards. We were just a bunch of beach rats that she was taking care of.
ANDERSON: I had a house in Malibu Colony that I was building, so I bought a trailer in Paradise Cove, and thats where Frankie and Brandon and Dylan met. They were on the golf carts, surfing every day. It was the real soul of Malibu where everyone’s surfing every day. I just drove those guys around everywhere.
AIELLO: All we cared about was being at the beach and being in the ocean.
SCARABELLI: That sounds dreamy. So this was the early 2000s? What were the trends in swimwear at that time? Pamela, what were you wearing?
ANDERSON: I still have my bikinis that I had in my twenties. I hang onto everything. They’re pretty much see-through and worn out. They’re not usable because when you have kids, you’re running around the beach. And you’re not running around in a tiny little bikini all the time. That’s why I think it’s great that Frankie and I collaborated at this point in my life when I really want practical swimwear. I can’t even believe I’m saying that, but we even talked about linings, what’s durable, what’s going to stay on, and we came up with this really great sexy but practical line, which is very much about a woman and not just about taking pictures on the beach. Frankie, you’ve been making bikinis since you were little. When’s the first time you made a bathing suit?
AIELLO: I was 17 and that was the primetime when I was running around in the Malibu trailer park with Pam’s sons. It was just me and this big group of boys and I was starting this bathing suit company. They would give me so much shit for it. I would go and take my samples and stick them in Pam’s mailbox in Paradise Cove. At that time, there weren’t a lot of people making cheeky bathing suits, and I saw a woman at Paradise Cove wearing a Brazilian-cut bottom. She was walking around all confident and I was like, oh my god, I need to feel that way and look that way. So I went on this mission to figure out how to make bottoms like that. And that catapulted my obsession with swimwear.
ANDERSON: I haven’t even unpacked since I’ve been here. I found so many different things. I call them archives. I’m sure your bathing suits are here somewhere.
AIELLO: I love that you keep everything.
ANDERSON: I don’t mean to. I give away a lot of things too. It’s just stuff that has memories, and I feel sentimental about everything in my life.
AIELLO: I love that about you. And now it pays off that you keep everything, because we used so many of her tried and true swimwear pieces as starting pieces for Pamela Anderson x Frankies Bikinis because we knew those suits are personal to her. She walked me through what she liked and disliked about swimwear, and we really utilized all of that within the collection.
SCARABELLI: There’s some pretty iconic references in there, obviously the Baywatch swimsuit is one of them. How many red one-pieces did you go through while filming Baywatch, Pamela?
ANDERSON: The bathing suits for me at that time were all made for me. And the Brazilian reference is interesting because when I was in Brazil, I noticed that women of all shapes and sizes wear the tiniest bikinis and they walk around with so much grace and beauty and joy and confidence. Red has always been my lucky color, it’s a power color, but it’s not always my go-to color. I never think red is going to look good on me, but then when I wear red, good stuff happens. So I’m not really one to gravitate towards red bikinis. Even with this collection, I was like, oh, red bikini, are we really going to do that? And then once I got it on, I loved it.
AIELLO: The collection is kind of both sides of you. I think you are so soft and kind and caring and feminine and girly, and then there’s this other side of you that is so powerful and strong. That’s the red, and the soft side is what you always say, “Creamy dreamy white and soft pink.”
ANDERSON: I guess that’s part of what my journey has been, is empowering oneself. There’s the divine feminine, and there’s power in that, but there’s a softness to it. I’m glad we included it in our line. People have asked me to do bathing suits forever, but they only ever knew one side of me. I mean, I’m a mom, I’m just trying to do the best I can. I’m on boats, I’m in the water, I paddle board, I surf, I do all these things and people are like, no, you’re just a sex kitten on the beach. So that’s why I’m so glad that we did it together because you’ve known me for decades and it’s a true blue, authentic story. I’ve seen you grow up and you’ve done so well. Brandon and Dylan always call me and go, mom, “Frankie is killing it.” And they were probably the ones making fun of you on the beach for making your own bikinis, but now they’re like, “She’s a genius.”
AIELLO: Oh, I love you guys.
ANDERSON: All of a sudden I’m a genius to them also, but in the past, they were making fun of me too. [Laughs] You’re a family girl and your mom is really involved, which is so great.
AIELLO: I was thinking about how this all came to be and it was really crazy. It was this whole serendipitous moment where me and my mom were sitting down—she’s my business partner—and we were like, who is our dream collaboration? And both of us at the same time said Pam. And sure enough, in the morning we went for a walk on the beach shooting ideas back and forth and we looked in the distance, and we were like, is that Pam? It turns out to be her and her assistant Jonathan, who I adore, so we thought, “This must be a sign.” Then we reached out and that’s how it all started.
SCARABELLI: It was meant to be. Why do you think Pamela resonates so much with young women today?
AIELLO: Pam is timeless. She has the biggest heart while also being this powerful, strong woman. You get this tangible feeling of both sides of her when you’re with her. I think that’s why she resonates with so many women across the world, of all ages. Everyone I talk to is like, “I can’t believe you even get to be around her, let alone design something with her.”
ANDERSON: You’re so cute. Thank you, Frankie.
SCARABELLI: I read your memoir and I cried so many times. It’s so good.
ANDERSON: Oh, I’m so glad. I mean, I’m not glad that you cried, but I’m so glad you read it.
SCARABELLI: It was just so moving in so many ways. I also, I love that you guys included that cute tank top with the illustration, it’s so Pam. How did that come about?
AIELLO: Well first of all, yesterday the launch was crazy and the number-one selling thing, of course, was the red one-piece, but what was really interesting was that the second best selling item was that tank top. She is a lover of nature and her dogs and her kids—that’s what I wanted the collection to represent, especially this year as everyone gets to know the real Pam. You can see floral details and her dog. I think she’s had multiple golden retrievers now [laughs], so that t-shirt is really special. Now it makes sense to me why those were the two best-selling pieces yesterday, it’s because they’re collectors items. Down to the hang tag, Pam was sketching doodles and with all these little inspiring messages on them. There’s so many personal elements to it and Pam is a real designer and a true creative at the end of the day.
ANDERSON: You’re so sweet. I’m just happy to support you too because you’re so young and you’re at the beginning of this wild adventure and you have such a big heart. Sometimes I’m just looking at you going, “She’s so cute.”
AIELLO: I just feel like we have such a special connection and bond, and the shoot was the most special shoot ever in my my 11 years of doing this. And then now we’ll be able to see our customers wearing these pieces and representing our story. It’s so special.
ANDERSON: It’s crazy. It’s full-circle.
SCARABELLI: Just because we’re all such nostalgia freaks, I have to ask about the white bikini and the wedding day inspiration.
ANDERSON: I’ve been married twice in a white bikini, I guess. There’s always a bikini under anything I’m wearing if I’m at the beach. It’s definitely inspired by my wedding on the beach the first time in Cancun. I can’t believe half the stuff I’ve done in my life. It just makes me laugh because not a lot of thought went into it. It was a bikini, it was white, I was on the beach. I was like, “Let’s get married.”
AIELLO: That’s my icon, literally. Married in a bikini. I’m like, “I need to do that.”
ANDERSON: I think my bikini at that time was designed by Heatherette.
AIELLO: Oh my god.
SCARABELLI: That’s such a good throwback.
ANDERSON: I was just looking through my closet because I have all these rolling racks and crates and I’m like, “Oh my god, there’s that little Heatherette dress and my little veil.”
SCARABELLI: You have to bring that back. Now’s the time. The kids are just learning about Heatherette. Well, thank you both so much. I really appreciate you taking the time. Congratulations.
ANDERSON: Thank you so much. It was so nice to see you, Frankie.
AIELLO: It’s so good to see your face. I can’t wait to see you in person.