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Collection inspired by our sailing heritage

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Inspired by the sea: Cooper

Nothing could be more fitting for the daughter of an Olympic sailor than designing nautical-inspired garments for the America’s Cup.

Dana Cooper, a fashion and graphic designer, is the daughter of Kirk Cooper, who competed at the 1964, 1968 and 1972 Games for Bermuda, and was an international juror at the 1983 America’s Cup.

Ms Cooper has been producing Bermuda-inspired beachwear and accessories for many years under the label that carries her name.

She most recently showed another collection in the Bermuda Fashion Collective at the Bermuda Society of Arts in November, and in July showed in the International Designers’ Showcase during the City of Hamilton’s Bermuda Fashion Festival in July.

The inspiration behind the 13 designs selected by the America’s Cup merchandising director came from her time on the water.

“I grew up sailing and I know what sailing means to Bermuda, whether that is the history of the early trade, the maritime history in which my family have participated in over the centuries,” she said.

“Sailing was one of the first things we had to learn as a kid. It was learning how to sail a boat, to be a part of a crew, to learn the ropes literally.

“My dad, his brother, his cousins and my uncles grew up sailing on Pitt’s Bay. I have an old photo of them in tiny little sailboats, which would probably be classed as Optis now.

“So there was a lot to draw from and I’ve pulled all of these experiences together to create this collection.”

Speaking about her youth, she said her dad was either sailing and training or working on yachts, which is what led to one of her first designs.

“We had rope everywhere, winches and we had sail bags,” she said. “My dad was training for the Olympics for most of my childhood.

“When we were in our teens we would use the sail bags with rope handles as shoulder bags and we were trying to make them fashionable, but that lasted only one summer.”

With her knowledge and using her design ability, she created images that pertained to Bermuda and the island’s history. So you will see lots of ropes and flora in her designs, which have been produced with a high-end Italian fabric.

“The nine beach wraps are very versatile and they have Lycra content, which allows for the pieces to mould to all shapes and sizes,” she said.

“The fabric is currently being used by the US skating and swimming teams, but I will also be producing the items in cotton. The four scarves are in chiffon and are nautical in nature.”

The opportunity of being a licensee is that she can bring a world-class product onto a global platform.

“They are commemorative pieces celebrating this event that may or may not happen ever again in Bermuda,” Ms Cooper said.

“It is also an avenue to service the globe with a first class unique product that is Bermuda inspired.”

On applying to become a licensee, she said: “As a Bermudian it is an opportunity of a lifetime, which was open to every Bermudian, so I said to myself ‘go for it, apply for it’.

“I think the America’s Cup is fantastic for Bermuda, as it will serve as a worldwide advert for the island.”

Ms Cooper’s designs will be available at The Bermuda Shop on Front Street, AS Coopers, all of the America’s Cup outlets and several boutiques as well as online at shop.danacooper.net.

Model: Karna Bikmukhametova. Photographer: Alexandre Llobet