For her resort 2015 collection, Cynthia Rowley united function and fashion.

The designer shot her resort collection at a gym in New York City. “We literally looked at every single gym in the city because we wanted a really polished, graphic, and simple gym,” Rowley tells InStyle.com. The location is in tune with the designer’s resort collection.

“I really started with this idea that if it’s resort, you’re going to be traveling and you need to be comfortable,” she says. The collection is a mix of fitness wear and pieces with glam elements, like feathers and brocade. The idea to make fitness wear a bit more stylish came from Rowley’s everyday observations. “Any day of the week, all I see is people wearing sneakers and fitness gear. And they may or not may not even make it to the gym, but they are all wearing the same uniform—it’s a functional way of dressing, you can’t beat it. But design-wise, does it have to look like fitness wear? No.”

Sarah Balch for InStyle.com

Rowley included a set of sporty, surf-inspired rash guards in her resort collection, too. And the idea came about naturally. “I was really thinking and looking around in the same way that I always do. I use a wetsuit myself and I thought ‘you know, why do I have to wear this plain black wetsuit? Why hasn’t anyone designed this object?'”

When asked of the core pieces of the collection, Rowley said it best herself: “You can get it wet, or you can put it with a feather skirt.”

Find out how Rowley got ready for the shoot (she first took her little ones to school!), details on the hair and makeup looks, and about a little hiccup that was thankfully resolved (hint: there was a shoe crisis). Head behind the scenes in our gallery of exclusive photos and tidbits.