Saturday, 20 June 2015

From then to now

There's a charm to vintage swimwear. Perhaps it was the absence of concerns about having a presentable bikini body. Up until into the 1930s, bodies of both men and women were to be covered while at the beach so outfits consisted of all-in-one swimsuits, beach dresses, and shorts attached under skirts. Then there's the nautical. The blues, the reds, the ropes tied around the waist and the contrasting white belt around shorts. Cute and fitting for its surroundings. People may look at them now and consider the swimwear unflattering. Of course it was impractical- The term 'swim' slightly misleading given the knitted wool fabrics would have been heavy and uncomfortable when wet- but there's something fun and current about it, like they could be recreated and worn as everyday playsuits. 

Beach dungarees existed. A nautical-patterned cotton one with crossover rope straps from the 1930s would be ideal on a breezeless summer's day in 2015 and a cotton playsuit from the 1950s, decorated in stripes of blossomed roses, would look delightful on present day rural outings.
So with these as playsuits, why not the swimwear too?

Maybe because, thanks to Lisa Marie Fernandez and Orlebar Brown, some of these styles have been redesigned- 
In seersucker and nylon, fabrics that are actually  designed to be worn for swimming. 
The costumes are not just left in museums to be observed or on Pinterest to be pinned. They 
can now be experienced as they should have been experienced. In the sea. Yippee. 

The Riviera Style exhibition at the Fashion and Textile museum is open until the 30th August. Lisa Marie Fernandez's swimwear can be viewed here and Orlebar Brown's here.

Image credit
bordered photographs: Taken by me.

1 comment:

  1. Great observations on vintage swimwear and modern takes on old styles.
    I found a pair of vintage men's swimming trunks in a vintage shop this week: they fit me perfectly as bikini bottoms. I also adore my original 50s ruched swimming costume, though only for dress up as I don't want to risk actually swimming in it in case the fabric disintegrates!