From London to Paris, Dubai, Saint Barth’s to St. Tropez, you’ll find Lenny’s gorgeous swimwear adorning the most beautiful bodies on the planet. I’ve been a fan since I first went to her shop years ago in Rio. My first Lenny bikini was chamois in an off-white and I wore it till it fell apart!
Four years ago, in 2011, the brand celebrated their 20 year anniversary with a major fashion show in Rio at the Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas, for the S/S 12 collection featuring as always Brazil’s top models.
Maria Helena, Lenny being a petit nom, was born in Santos but moved to Rio in the 70’s to design bikinis for other brands. Previously a gifted landscape architect, and at the time married to a neurosurgeon, Paulo Niemeyer, Lenny soon started to design swimwear for herself which created a sensation amongst her friends. In Rio and São Paulo, bikinis were not considered beachwear fashion, but Lenny changed this perception and was perhaps the forerunner of swimwear as a fashion collection. She decorated her bikinis with unusual never-seen-before artefacts such as bone, porcelain and sea-shells. Bones that she used to taylor and shape with her husband’s surgical tools! Success soon beckoned and she opened her first shop in Ipanema in 1991. Since then, the brand has grown so much, to 19 stores in Brazil and 200 wholesale points.
Images from the 2015 s/s collection titled Botanica, published in a heavenly book.
MY 5 MINUTES WITH LENNY
What are your summer must-haves?
Plissés, lots of stripes, macramês, lots of fluid, breezy pieces, more geometrical shapes, light patterns and lots of white!
You must’ve been to the most idyllic beaches in the world. What are your favorites ?
Mykonos for its incredible topography and calm, crystalline waters and Trancoso because of tis Bahian energy, the rustic energy of its centre and its wild beaches.
I know you love to invite friends and you’re a well known hostess. What’s the dish that your guests rave about?
Vatapá is the dish I love to serve my guests for lunch, typical from Baia.
Lenny’s own recipe for VATAPÁ
1 kg ½ of fresh prawns
1 cup of dried shrimp
1 kg of fish (grouper) cubed
3 cups of water soaked bread
1 cup of peanuts
½ cup of cashew nuts
3 bottles of coconut milk
1 bottle of palm oil
2 tablespoons of grated ginger
1 grated onion
2 coffee spoons of finely chopped coriander
1. Roast or dry-fry, the peanuts and the cashew nuts, then place in a blender with water and blend into a paste. Keep on the side.
2. Rinse the dried shrimp well and roast them in the oven. When well roasted, blend them until they turn into a kind of flour. sieve and keep on the side.
3. Braise the prawns and the fish with the ginger, the onion, the bread, 2 bottles of the coconut milk, the peanut/cashew mixture for more or less 15 minutes. Remove the prawns and fish and place on the side.
4. Now add the rest of the ingredients, adding the palm oil, the rest of the coconut milk, fish and prawns at the end.
5. Add the chopped coriander over the dish and little drizzle of palm oil. Serve and enjoy!!
For you, what are the 6 most memorable things to see or do in Rio de Janeiro?
• Sunset at Arpoador. A beautiful light and the view of Ipanema beach with the Two Brothers hill as a background.
• The Little Antiques Fair of Cassino Atlântico on Saturdays. From there, cross the street and have a delicious morning coffee at the Confeitaria Colombo of the Fort of Copacabana.
• Visit the Botanical Garden in the morning and then catch a bite to eat at Rubayat at the Jockey Club, facing the racing lanes.
• Dinner at Sushi Leblon. My tip is to ask for a table on the verandah to see the passers-by. My 11-year old daughter “absolutely adores it”!
• Lunch at Aprazível in Santa Tereza and following that, take a walk in the neighbourhood getting to know the galleries.
• The Hippie Market on Sundays that takes place on the square, Praça General Osório in Ipanema.
Lenny and Friends