I’ve been looking at bikinis lately, lots of them. After a two-week refresher in Maui — where we were hard at work researching swimwear trends and Mai-Tai recipes — I’ve seen enough thongs, strings and brazilian cuts to make a trip to the optometrist an urgent priority.
From the tony tourist crowd in Wailea to the golfers’ wives of Ka’anapali to the surfer groupies in Pa’ia, we’ve pretty much seen the best, and worst, of this season’s styles. And our verdict? It’s almost impossible to look bad in a bikini. Almost.
Floral prints, graphic lines, neon brights and classic blacks: it’s all good. Same goes for halter tops, bandeaus and the increasingly popular boyshort bottoms. And, oddly, on a beach filled with eye-popping distractions, a pretty tunic or cover-up will make you stand out from the crowd.
But not everything works in swimwear, at least from an observer’s perspective. Contrasting prints on the same suit are garish. Mix-and-match tops and bottoms (who’s responsible for this anyway?) make people think you dressed in the dark. Tie-sides leave tan lines that resemble stretch marks. And — as my companion can vouch — metal bling will give you third-degree burns.
Which brings me to Beach Bunny, the high-flying California swim label that began several years ago with the clever idea of combining lingerie looks with swimwear cuts to give their styles an instant boost of eroticism. Beach Bunny was an immediate hit with the L.A. celebrity crowd and spawned many copycats.
The past few seasons, though, have seen a disturbing trend as Beach Bunny tries to stay ahead of the pack by amping up the glam factor in their swimwear collections by any means possible. What began as a California lifestyle label is rapidly turning into a Vegas costume line.
Recent collaborations with the Kardashian sisters have produced — I’m sorry to say it — grotesque collections (faux python skin, anyone?) that look like they were designed with an iPhone app. And Beach Bunny’s decision to use A-list models like Kate Upton and Candice Swanepoel seems to have driven them toward more outrageous styles, as if they need to justify the expense of their high-priced talent.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in BB’s 2012 cruise collection, called Lola. It’s a flashy, trashy set that is so ridiculously over-designed it’s hard on the eyes. This is swimwear for the ADHD crowd.
Beach Bunny has pulled out all the stops and emptied their bag of tricks with the Lola collection, a hodgepodge of bits and pieces that positively shrieks to be noticed.
Pink satin with multi-colored jewels. Black-and-white chevrons with red satin bows and thick lace trim. Animal print and floral lace together. Sequined shorts and polka-dot wraps and cherry prints and rhinestone chains. There’s a tunic in something resembling a batik print, ruined by a jeweled neckline, and a lovely tropical halter dress turned hideous by adding black lace panels. It is, in a word, an exhausting collection to behold.
Make no mistake, this stuff is going to sell like crazy. But that’s no compliment to Beach Bunny’s design team, which has simply succumbed to the basic principle of Hollywood style: the loudest looks make the biggest splash.
Unfortunately, unless your name is Kardashian or you’re on Kanye’s speed dial, you’ll probably have a hard time pulling off these looks without appearing silly.
Our advice: Tone it down, and find a swimsuit that encourages people to look at you, not the noise that you’re wearing.
Here are some more shots from Beach Bunny’s promo campaign for Lola; sunglasses are recommended for viewing. The circus theme is a nice touch, though I doubt they intended the irony.