Making a splash: Westerly native Libby Castaldi creates Elizabeth Apparel, her new swimwear line | Daily news alerts


WESTERLY — Westerly native Libby Castaldi may have staged a protest against a hated dress as a child, but her eye for fashion and sophisticated taste in clothes have served her well.

Earlier this month Castaldi, 25, launched her new website, Elizabeth Apparel RI, showcasing her swimwear line which features her own painted prints, with each design inspired by a different section of Westerly.

“There’s one called ‘Weekapaug Wayside,’ one called ‘Town Beach Blues,’ and one called ‘Bluff Avenue Bubbles,'” said Castaldi, the youngest child of Sandra Castaldi of Westerly and the late Raphael Joseph “Ray. Castaldi, who was a well-known ordained deacon in the Catholic Church, died in May.

The Weekapaug design features blue hydrangeas in full bloom, Town Beach Blues features pairs of seagulls and Bluff Avenue features tiny bottles of Veuve Clicquot champagne, said Castaldi, who graduated with the class of 2015 from Westerly High School.

Hydrangeas, of course, are plentiful during the summer months in oceanside gardens, those pesky seagulls are plentiful on the beach, and the “bright, sparkling print” is inspired by Ocean House, where ” only the best champagne is served” and where Libby and her mother like to enjoy “a secret getaway”.

“She’s always been a fashionista,” Sandra Castaldi said of her daughter one afternoon last week as she told the story of Libby and the dress she didn’t like so much.

The story goes that when Libby was a student at Central Baptist Nursery School, she refused to get out of the car and go to school because she didn’t like the dress she was wearing.

” Who do this ? Sandy asked with a laugh. “She was 3 years old.”

“I used to watch ‘Project Runway’ all the time too,” Libby added, “since I was 4.”

Mother and daughter shared a laugh as they walked along Weekapaug Beach one afternoon last week accompanied by Sophie Reed, Libby’s friend from Westerly High, Mia Castaldi, Sandy’s stepdaughter and step- Libby’s sister, and Mia’s son, Enzo, who is Sandy’s grandson, Libby’s nephew and who will be 2 years old in September.

The cast searched for the perfect spot to model Libby’s bathing suits – and place a few of her matching colorful towels in the sand – while Enzo and his grandmother waded through the waters of Block Island Sound.

“She was so creative in high school,” said Reed, 25, who works in finance and recruiting and wore the bikini version of Castaldi’s Town Beach Blues. “She was always drawing…and writing.”

While at Westerly High School, Libby was not only “very involved” in the art program, but wrote for the school newspaper, “The Barker”.

“She was the best dressed in high school,” Reed added with a smile. “The hallways were his place.”

Reed said Libby’s pals all knew she would be in fashion and design one day, and they knew she would shine.

The two pals laughed as they recalled Libby’s Instagram page, which featured “an outfit of the day.”

“She introduced Instagram in high school,” Reed noted.

Libby said she learned a lot during her high school years and credited art teacher John Tedeschi with being a strong and positive influence.

“He took my art from good to where I am today,” she said.

“Libby has great fashion sense, an amazing work ethic and a can-do attitude,” Tedeschi said in an email late Thursday. “It’s an inspiration to see her follow her dreams.

“Congratulations on her new swimwear line!” Tedeschi added. “She will make a lasting mark on the fashion world.”

After graduating from Westerly High, Libby went to study at Lasell College in Newton, Massachusetts, where she majored in fashion design and production. While a student, Libby participated – as one of 38 students – in a semester-long team project under the mentorship of renowned fashion historian Edward Maeder.

According to Jill Carey, her teacher at the time, Libby teamed up with classmates to research and produce rococo-style paper dresses using handmade textiles after visiting the exhibit “Casanova’s Europe” at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and immersing himself in “the intricacies of 18th century culture and style.

After college, she worked as a designer for Kiel James Patrick, the popular Rhode Island-based company, for a while and two weeks ago she officially launched Elizabeth Apparel in a pop-up store at the Viking Hotel in Newport.

Back on Weekapaug Beach, the entourage laid out the towels in the sand before plunging into the cold ocean waters.

“There are so many styles of swimwear too,” Mia said, “low waist and bikini, two-piece…”

“And I have a kids line too,” Libby added. “And a man.”

“If you want to be a part of greatness, follow Elizabeth Apparel from Westerly,” Sophie said. “She would make her dad proud.”

“Ray was one of his biggest fans,” Sandy added.

Starting her own business has been a huge undertaking, Libby writes on her website, “emotionally, physically, creatively and of course financially”, but, she adds, she “persists through it all to honor her late father who LOVED the beach.”

To learn more about Elizabeth Apparel, visit


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