Remember the nervous thrill of going for a swim in your undies because you didn’t have a bathing suit handy? In fact, haven’t we all been to high school or college pool parties where swimsuits were just, ahem, unnecessary?
Well, the growing trend of “swimgerie” — undergarments that work as both lingerie and swimwear — could make that nearly naughty rite of passage a thing of the past.
A growing number of fashion labels are using quick-dry micro-weave fabrics to produce collections that blur the line between undies and swimwear, in the process creating the curious hybrid known as “swimgerie”. Is it underwear? Is it swimwear? Or (and this is closer to the truth) is it simply tricked-out gym wear?
One of the boldest entries in this new crossover market is the California label Femme Noir Swimgerie, which made quite a splash (pardon the pun) this spring with the introduction of its very seductive, very daring debut collection.
Although the company describes its line as “lingerie that can finally be worn wet” — did anyone ask for that? — it’s more accurate to say that Femme Noir offers swimwear designs that borrow from contemporary erotic lingerie styles — fringes, cutouts, and lots of interlacing straps.
Company founder Lilly Ghalichi came up with the concept after getting bored with the usual summertime assault of bikinis and strings. And in that regard, Femme Noir is an unqualified success — if you want to stand out from the poolside crowd, one of these seriously seductive outfits will do the trick.
And there’s no mistaking Femme Noir’s intentions with this collection. Suits have names like Foreplay, Man-Eater, Bondage and Twisted Love, and the company even hired Playboy’s Miss March Ashley Mattingly as their spokesmodel. This is swimwear for erotic adventurers on the prowl, not the beach volleyball crowd.
On some level, I suspect Femme Noir Swimgerie is more a marketing-driven concept than a fashion collection. I can’t imagine wanting to get these pieces wet, let alone attempting a back flip off the high board with those all fringes and ties whipping around. And, given its ultra-risqué styling, I can’t imagine wearing Femme Noir under anything, ever.
Femme Noir may not be the multi-purpose, multi-functional all-in-one it claims to be, but if you’re goal is getting noticed instantly, any one of their pieces will work. Think of it as the next best thing to skinny dipping.
Below are images from Femme Noir’s debut line. This moderately priced collection is available through the company’s e-store.
Plenty of swimwear designers have tried their hand at that old favorite, the crochet bikini. But not many are daring enough to go for the see-through, macramé-inspired knit that is the centerpiece of Jemma Jube‘s new swim collection.
JJ’s Suzie bikini is a revealing little number inspired by 1960s’ swim styles and is guaranteed to have more than a few eyes following you from behind their Oakleys. It comes in a sunny yellow or smoking black and is as soft as it is sexy, thanks to the elastic blend of acrylic and spandex.
Jemma Jube is a young-ish Aussie label run by designer Mel Kier, who has a real taste for flashy retro styles and fashion icons. She cites as her inspirations such larger-than-life tastemakers as Russ Meyer, John Waters, Bob Fosse and (of course!) 1960s’ Playboy bunnies.
And Kier’s dramatic styles are creating some serious buzz. In the past month alone, Jemma Jube has had a Cosmo UK cover (with Kim Kardashian) plus editorials in British Vogue and Grazia.
Be prepared to wait to get your hands on the crochet Suzie bikini, though. Jemma Jube is found mainly in Australia and just launched on Topshop (UK only) — but it’s slowly making its way to America. For the time being, you can always pay those shipping fees to be the first on your beach to sport this memorable style.
Below you can see some of Jemma Jube’s other swim styles, each offering its own twist on 60s nostalgia. Scroll to the bottom and we have the label’s new video, Slippery When Wet, which lets you glimpse some of Jemma Jube’s pieces in the flesh, so to speak.
Here’ a find: unique swimwear looks patterned after early 20th Century men’s swimsuits.
This collection comes from conceptual fashion designer Monika Zajaczkowska of Poland, and will likely be hard to find without contacting the designer directly. But it’s such a clever idea that we’re hoping some North American designers will take a hint.
Not everything in MZ’s 2011 swim range borrows from the men’s vintage theme: as you can see below, there are plenty of nice minimalist cuts in trendy pale hues. However, the most dramatic and appealing pieces are the throwback looks: big scooped-neck tops, button-side high-waisted bottoms and the uber-cool Henley front in the top photo.
Jantzen (and probably some other labels) have tried in recent years to reintroduce the old tank-style men’s trunks in a non-ironic way, but not for the women’s market.
I’ve always thought the tank swimsuit look was clownish on men, but there’s a reason men’s styles evolved that way. Back in 1917, a very prim set of “bathing suit regulations” required men’s swim trunks to be covered by a skirt (true!) or similar effect. The boxy tank-style was an attempt by designers to create a fashionable look for the boys that wasn’t, believe it or not, too effeminate.
You can check out more of Monika Zajaczkowska’s work on her website (look for the link that translates it into English). On it, you’ll also find her clothing line from last year — very interesting pieces made with a sleek wet-look fabric that is meant to fold like paper. How cool is that?
If you love the look of vintage bathing suits but don’t relish slipping on a pre-used maillot then Minnow Bathers has a perfect solution, namely fun suits in great prints and vintage-inspired designs.
The Toronto-based company founded by Karen Donaldson and Vanessa Warrack a couple of years back has really come into its own with the recent Minnow Bathers Spring/Summer 2011 collection.
One-piece floral cutouts share space with black and color-blocked swimsuits in black, purple and white. Some of the bathers feature graphic lines and cut outs, others come complete with suspenders, and some have all three.
Aside from the 90s florals, Minnow Bathers also offers several other fun prints like marijuana leaves (bottom photo), clouds and water color stripes, not to mention the buzzed-about red tartan suit that is still available for purchase and comes with a distinct grunge-esque vibe. Suits range from $110-130 and Minnow Bathers’ selection of trunks and briefs for men start at $45.
As for the S/S 2011 Minnow Bathers swimsuit collection, and the lookbook photographed by Jeremy Janson, both have the feel of hazy summer days and nostalgic memories. Appropriate considering the designers were inspired by “friends, rebellion, summer fun, first beers, first tokes, and first kisses.”
If you’d like to get your hands on a pretty and reasonably priced Minnow Bathers suit, they’re on sale in Toronto at Ruins (960 Queen Street West) and Penny Arcade Vintage (1177 Dundas Street West) and can be purchased online at the company’s Etsy boutique.
Film school types will also want to check out the label’s video ‘lookbook’, a grainy 6-part video series in which the models reflect on their childhoods and more — apparently after breaking into someone’s house. Hmm, could be used as evidence…
Today should be one of the least productive days ever for the North American workforce, as Sports Illustrated releases the 2011 Swimsuit Edition in every conceivable media platform — including those bulky old-school magazines.
This year you can digitally thumb through the annual skinfest on your iPad or iPhone, Galaxy or Android devices. In addition, SI’s website and Facebook page include more than 100 hours of video and 1,300 additional images detailing every behind-the-scenes moment in the production of the swimsuit issue. That should keep you busy till spring.
As everyone who stayed up to watch Letterman knows by now, the cover of this year’s edition shows Russian supermodel Irina Shayk, modeling a swimsuit from Sauvage. This was the fifth appearance in the swimsuit edition for the green-eyed beauty.
The SI annual features plenty of other beauties who have appeared in past issues, as well as a “rookie class” that includes Alyssa Millar, Shannan Click, Izabel Goulart, Kate Upton and Kenza Fourati.
The cover was shot in Maui by Bjorn Iooss, who apparently captured the memorable image with the first shot on his first-ever Sports Illustrated shoot. Talk about beginnner’s luck.
Lots more to discover over at the Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit site, so dive in!