General, Press Release /

“Waves of Change, Fashioning an Ocean Friendly Future” Convenes Fashion Designers, Performers and Musicians to Celebrate the Ocean

The intimate evening celebrated Ocean Rising, a program that interweaves the ocean into culture to create a community of ocean lovers.
Images available for download here.

Santa Monica, Calif. – May 20, 2024  Ahead of World Ocean Month, Hotel Casa del Mar and Schmidt Ocean Institute hosted a fashion show and WORDTheater event with actor Jason George to celebrate the ocean on Saturday, May 18.  The event is part of the Ocean Rising initiative that convenes leaders and tastemakers in pop culture sectors like fashion, sports, filmmaking, music, gaming and food and encourages them to take inspiration from the ocean and apply it to their work and art. The fashion show was the second Ocean Rising event co-hosted by Casa del Mar.

Model Oxana wears Runa Ray’s climate graph cork dress.Katherine Flynn/Schmidt Ocean Institute

The event featured remarks by former supermodel and social entrepreneur Frederique van der Wal, and a fashion show exhibiting ocean-inspired creations by sustainable fashion designers Runa Ray, Melissa Kritsotakis and Sasha Royce.

“Having been born in the Netherlands, where the sea and land are in a delicate balance, it’s crucial to recognize that our actions on land directly impact the ocean, and that we have a shared responsibility for our environment, no matter where we live,” said van der Wal. “I was proud to speak at this event, which brought great people together that share a love for the ocean. Like ripples in the water, let us continue to inspire and unite others in our journey towards a more sustainable world.”

(L-R) Models Anastasia, Oxana and Bri wear Melissa Kritsotakis purple, aqua, and mermaid ball gowns, model Cin wears final final gown of the evening from Runa Ray, designers Runa Ray, Sasha Royce, and Melissa Kritsotakis.Katherine Flynn/Schmidt Ocean Institute

Held in the newly unveiled oceanfront Conservatory event space at Hotel Casa del Mar, the event featured ocean-inspired sustainable couture by the three designers, who use the positive power of fashion to connect humanity with its environment.

“We are thrilled to continue our partnership with Schmidt Ocean Institute to spotlight the importance of sustainability, this time through the lens of fashion,” said Max Jonas, General Manager at Hotel Casa del Mar. “With the ocean quite literally in our backyard, the cause is important to us, and we are excited about raising awareness while celebrating the sea.”

Model Bri wears Sasha Royce’s Smart Swimwear made from plastic water bottles.Katherine Flynn/Schmidt Ocean Institute

Fashion environmentalist Runa Ray showcased a series of six dresses as part of her continued Art as Activism work. Designer Melissa Kritsotakis presented timeless past creations connected to the ocean along with new designs from a developing collection inspired by Schmidt Ocean Institute imagery. The collection debuted ocean-inspired music, “Patterns of the Undercurrent,” specially composed for the evening by Michelle Carter and Mark Solomon. Sustainable swimwear was presented by Smart Swimsuit’s CEO and designer Sasha Royce.

LA’s WORDTheatre, which connects people by bringing great stories to life through performance, joined the event with a performance by actor Jason George (Grey’s Anatomy, Station 19) reading an ocean themed short story.

Station 19 and Gray’s Anatomy actor Jason George doing a WORD Theater spoken word performance about the ocean.Katherine Flynn/Schmidt Ocean Institute

“The ocean can inspire fashion in so many ways. We are thrilled that some of the imagery collected from at-sea expeditions with our research vessel Falkor (too), is being incorporated into the designer’s work,” said Jyotika Virmani, executive director of Schmidt Ocean Institute. “This is exactly what the Ocean Rising Alliance is about, bringing attention to the Ocean through these individual activities and we were delighted to co-host this event with the iconic Casa Del Mar in Santa Monica.”

(L-R) Designer Runa Ray, model Cin in final gown of the evening, models Bri and Anastasia wear Melissa Kritsotakis mermaid and purple ball gowns, designer Melissa Kritsotakis, and model Oxana wears Melissa Kritsotakis aqua gown.Katherine Flynn/Schmidt Ocean Institute

Schmidt Ocean Institute
+1 808 628 8666

Ballantines PR
+310 454 3080

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About Ocean Rising
Ocean Rising is an initiative that encourages the public to engage with the ocean through cultural initiatives and innovative events. Established by Schmidt Ocean Institute and Nekton, it aims to integrate the ocean seamlessly into the fabric of everyday life – igniting curiosity for our undersea world and cultivating a global community dedicated to the celebration and protection of our ocean.

About Hotel Casa del Mar
Offering breathtaking views of the Pacific, Hotel Casa del Mar brings the luxury, romance and relaxing feel of a Mediterranean resort to the Southern California coast. Once an exclusive beach club in the 1920s, the hotel’s timeless charm and elegance remain. Designed by Michael Smith, the lobby’s original soaring ceiling and dramatic windows boast spectacular sunsets and a picturesque place to unwind. The hotel features two restaurants, a lively lobby bar and lounge with nightly entertainment, luxurious indoor cabanas, an exclusive spa, fitness center and outdoor pool overlooking the ocean. With the most spectacular setting in Los Angeles and world-class amenities, Hotel Casa del Mar sets the standard for comfortable, relaxed luxury.

About Schmidt Ocean Institute
Schmidt Ocean Institute was established in 2009 by Eric and Wendy Schmidt to catalyze the discoveries needed to understand our ocean, sustain life, and ensure the health of our planet through the pursuit of impactful scientific research and intelligent observation, technological advancement, open sharing of information, and public engagement at the highest levels of international excellence.

About Celebration of the Sea Foundation
The Celebration of the Sea Foundation works to ENGAGE, EDUCATE and INSPIRE the public with a specific focus on instilling stewardship and conservation among children and their families to help protect and ensure the sustained well-being of marine animals and their respective habitats. A major focus of all of our initiatives are additionally placed on highlighting extraordinary ocean conservation role models and respective jobs and career paths for students in the new “Blue Economy”.

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