Style

Christina Milian Designed Swimsuits You Can Wear From A.M. to P.M. This Summer

In ELLE’s series Teen Queens, we check in with the iconic stars who ruled the stage, screen, and news cycle during their reign.


When Christina Milian received a message from Oceanus creative director Hannah Attalah to collaborate on a collection, she thought it was a joke. “I was like, is this an accident?” Milian recalls, speaking on video call from Paris.

The singer, actress, and producer had already been a fan of the elevated swimwear brand for years. She first found them on Instagram when she was hunting for something to wear for Coachella. Photos of Oceanus swimsuits kept showing up on her feed. “I was like, ‘What is this? It looks so good.’” It just so happened she was getting into beading at the time, so the handmade pieces and Swarovski crystal-covered designs caught her eye even more.

Milian sent a DM saying she loved the website, and purchased a few items. Since the pieces take a few weeks to make, she didn’t end up wearing any to Coachella, but she sported them over the summer and fell in love. “I just felt like all her pieces really stood out. I hadn’t seen anybody else wearing it at that time. And I felt really special having those pieces.”

The outreach flourished from a DM into a friendship that hit a peak earlier this year when Attalah invited her to collaborate. Milian felt the timing was perfect. “I feel like I manifested it,” she says.

“In this time in my life, I’m a mom,” she adds. “There are so many things that you want as a woman, you want to still feel young and fresh and likable and this, that, for yourself and also to others, in a way. And the fact that she came to me and offered this collaboration was really exciting for me.”

The result is the Tropez Havana collection; Tropez because Milian and her family spend their summers in St.-Tropez, and Havana to honor her Cuban background. It’s an exciting new endeavor for the multi-hyphenate, who has been in show business and the public eye for decades: She had some early days on Disney (let’s not forget who sang the iconic Kim Possible theme song), she gave us 2000s bops like “Dip It Low” and “AM to PM,” and she graced the screen in aughts films like Love Don’t Cost a Thing and Be Cool. In recent years, she’s become a fixture in the Netflix rom-com and holiday movie genre, and while she’s continuing her reign in the field, she’s moving into producing as well. Directing would also “be a dream for me in the future,” says the mom of three. But right now, she’s celebrating the launch of the capsule. “I love when people kind of take on your music, and they’re singing your songs. When I see women wearing the clothes, I’m going to be over the moon.”

Here, Milian talks her collaboration with Oceanus, her rom-com era, and whether she’ll make music again.

christina milian

Oceanus

Tell me about the designs a little bit. They seem very Cuban-inspired, based on your heritage—lots of fun colors, fruits, and florals.

For the inspiration, we talked about a couple different things, but I really wanted to draw on not only culture, but what’s true to my life now. So my husband and I, especially since I met him, we really do vacations. We go to St.-Tropez every summer. And I wanted to bring the influence of what summer feels like to me in St.-Tropez, from being on the boats and the yachts to drinking Aperol spritz. Also, I bring my influence of just being a Cuban woman, which brings a certain fire and energy about me that’s tagging along with me no matter wherever I go. So it’s kind of like a hodgepodge of the two: that luxe lifestyle and resort couture-vibe with the liveliness of being a Cuban woman. Also the styles are inspired by your curves and being confident and feeling really good in your skin.

As a vacation expert, tell me which pieces you’re wearing and where. Are you picturing them on a yacht, at a beach club?

Everywhere. We do a lot of lunches on the beach. And what I love is that they can transition. All you have to do is put on one of the skirts, or you can transition some of the sets or even just throw a dress on over top, and make your way to the beach and find yourself at a beach club. And you might be eating one second and then dancing on the tables the next second. What’s great about it is, though it sounds like that’s only maybe a single-girl lifestyle, it’s actually in this lifestyle. You see families and you see women that feel confident and feel sexy, and the pieces stand out in a way where you’re not trying, but you look good, because everybody looks good around you.

Carmensita Swimsuit

Carmensita Swimsuit

Miranda Mini Dress

Miranda Mini Dress

You have other exciting things that are coming up this year. Is there anything you can tease, perhaps the Christmas movie on Netflix?

I could tell you about a few things, but yes, there’s the Christmas movie coming out on Netflix that’s going to be out in November, what’s called Meet Me Next Christmas. I’m also an executive producer on that one, which I’m excited about. And I love doing romantic comedies. It’s kind of my thing. It works all the time, and I love doing them. And then Christmas movies as well. I feel like people always ask me, “When’s your next Christmas movie? When’s your next rom-com?” So now they have the perfect combination of the two. And it’s funny, we shot it a year ago from now, so it’s definitely ready. It’s finished, it’s in the can, and it’s ready to go. And Netflix is super excited about it.

I feel like you have a rom-com reign.

I really love doing it. I try to be really picky about which ones I do, because there’s so many out there, and people come to me to do romantic comedies, but I like to make sure that each one feels special and feels different. And I want them to all obviously be successful on their own. But I love to fall in love with the story. I don’t want it to feel or sound like anything done before or that I’ve seen, even though all of them have similarities, of course.

Yeah, the arc.

Yeah, the arc’s always very similar, but this one’s a lot of fun. It’s a lot of comedy with this one, and I really wanted to touch more on the comedy part and, of course, the romance. But it’s very comedic, so I love that we get to touch on that. And then I also produced a movie, an independent called Body Language. We don’t have a date on that, but that one is a thriller, and I’m excited about that one too. I’ve done a scary movie, but it’s my first thriller, and it was my first movie I produced, and it’s an indie, and I wish I had more information on that, but it’s fun to do thriller.

How are you handling producing your first few projects?

Producing is a lot of fun. I think I’ve always wanted to do it. Some people just do it as a request, because they’re like, I’m the main star of the movie, I’m this, that. For me, I really wanted to be hands-on, whether that’s casting, that’s location, changes on the scripting—having the relationship with the director to make sure that we touch on all the emotions and feelings and get everything that we need, so that they can edit and do what they got to do. So producing is fun. And I love that they trusted me, especially with romantic comedy. I’m a professional at this. I’ve got some advice.

So it’s really being an advisor and getting it to a state that makes it feel different and fun. Also, being open to trying new things and then having that back and forth with the director or the actors. It’s exciting. I love it. And it gears me toward wanting to even direct in the future. So I want to maybe study that more. But I would love to continue producing projects for not only myself, but other people that just have other voices. I think it’s important to see and hear other voices and cultures and expressions from people that we haven’t seen before or tell stories that are exciting and fun that I really am drawn to. So I’m looking for my next project. We’ll see what’s the next thing I’ll produce. But it’s a lot of fun. I love doing it.

And you’ve been in the business for decades, since you were a kid, so know your way around for sure.

Yeah, so much more to learn, but it’s fun that now I get to be at this stage of my life. The things I’ve lived through, I know now I can bring them to the table as an actress and as a producer.

As a pro at rom-coms, what do you think people get wrong about the genre sometimes? What are some misconceptions people might have?

Not all rom-coms are the same, but I think when you are seeking one, you’ll take it however you can get it. It’s the girl that goes back home, loses her job. I think there are other strong stories about women; they don’t have to lose it all to fall in love, they don’t have to be desperate. You could also find stories about women that are in a strong position that are discovering themselves, and it doesn’t have to be with the guy from back home. There are different stories and ways to tell it. And you can discover new people.

Earlier this year, “Dip it Low” turned 20, can you believe it? Did you celebrate at all?

At first, I didn’t even know that it happened. Some fans posted it, and I was like, oh. And what’s crazy is, I was 21 when I did it so the concept of that—it just still feels like it’s yesterday.

Time flies by, and you don’t imagine that that’s a whole human person that’s legal now. It’s like your baby. So yeah, I have a whole 20-year-old, which is blowing my mind. But it’s cool, because that song still lives on. It’s still popular. People still love it. I could perform it anywhere or people just start singing it or they come up to me. If you go on Spotify, it’s the most listened to song of my other music. It feels good, because I feel like when you’re an entertainer, it’s like you’re making your mark in history. People can go back to this and watch it again, or it can be re-sung by a new artist now. And it feels really special to be part of something. It lets me know my hard work at that time—which was so much fun, it didn’t feel like work—paid off. And it’s also led to my longevity as well.

What did that moment in your history mean to you?

It was a changeover in my career where I was like a pop/Disney girl, and all of a sudden, I was coming out, 21, I was feeling myself, super confident. Times were different back then. That’s in the days when everyone’s doing Maxim magazine [laughs]. It’s a whole different time.

But at that time, I felt like I was just really happy and excited that it was working. It was everything I dreamed of to be a singer and for my music to go top 10 on the Billboard charts. It was all happening, and I was working really hard, dancing and traveling the world, and it really set the tone for me internationally. To this day, the music, it really hit so many people. So it felt really special for me then. And it was a lot of fun. I had a blast. I told you, it doesn’t feel old. It’s weird. To this day, it’s like yesterday.

Young, free, sexy, single, no kids. And now my daughter, she’s always like, “My friends love you. You’re a Y2K queen, mom.” [Laughs]

Do you feel like you would ever make new music again?

For me, career-wise, film is a good place for me. I know I can come back to my kids and that I can handle it professionally. But music is something that was a lot of fun for me. I haven’t closed the door on it, but I feel like maybe I would touch on music again more as a songwriter. And then if it happened to just trickle over into something else, then I wouldn’t stop it.

Are there any younger or rising artists that excite you or that you’d love to cover one of your songs?

I wouldn’t mind if Doja Cat just decided to do “Dip It Low.”

Oh, that would be really cool.

She can take “AM to PM” anytime. Take it girl, and do what you want to do with it. She’s so different, and she’s so cool and so expressive. She’s not for everybody, but I think she’s just for herself, and I love her independence and how different she is. So she would be really cool.

I don’t know if you saw, but since you co-wrote “Baby” by Justin Bieber, after he announced that he’s expecting with Hailey, there was a resurgence of that song. Everyone was quoting it again. It was in all the Instagram captions, like “Play ‘Baby’ by Justin Bieber.” The legacy lives on.

Really? No, I haven’t seen that. I didn’t even think about that. I saw his announcement. First off, that’s awesome for him. That’s another song that I’m like, okay, that’s going to live on forever. At the time, I wrote it with my ex-husband [The-Dream], and it’s something that’s almost dedicated to my own daughter. I was pregnant at the time, so it’s kind of cool. It has new legs.

How are you describing this era of your career, as a business woman and as a mom?

I would describe this era of my career as still exploring. I’m still having fun. I am loving the balance of motherhood and also the opportunities that are presented, like this one with Oceanus. I love to continue discovering myself. I feel like my job, every day I have a new discovery. That’s what life is all about. And it’s having faith in every day that it’s something that’s going to make you better. So I feel like I’m getting better with time. And I like challenging myself. So whether that’s designing a collection, acting as a new character in a thriller, or becoming a mom of three, I’m open to it.

But I think when you leave yourself open to the opportunities, they present themselves, and it’s fun to dive into them. It makes you feel young again.


Teen Queens Questionnaire

Name a 2000s fashion trend that should never come back.

The whale tail. G-strings up your butt for the public? I can’t believe it was a style, but I did it proudly. It matched the times, but I think it should stay where it started.

Who was your first celebrity crush?

Brad Pitt! I mean, did you see Thelma & Louise?

What is the wildest rumor you’ve ever read about yourself?

Much of it was usually about my dating history. Some of the people were just friends of mine or acquaintances that I took pictures with.

What are some of your fondest memories from childhood?

Riding bikes with my sisters through our suburban neighborhood, going to the woods, and building a fort, making that our secret hideaway. We swore that we were going to run away and stay there.

Have you ever kept anything from set?

I have many of my looks from the movie Love Don’t Cost a Thing, in part because my mom was the stylist. That’s a cool fact. And I still have those pieces.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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