For any of you who took umbrage at my previous ode to the one-piece for summer 2009, I bring good news for 2010. Diversity is the watch word in swim next year. From â€œitsy bitsy teeny weenyâ€ bikinis to graphic print one-pieces, designers are offering a full array of choices in swimwear. The one prevailing trend seems to be suits that are sure to turn heads. Once a year – in July of all months – the world’s fashion journalists brave the sweltering heat of South Beach to attend the SwimShow trade show and the Mercedes Benz Swim Week fashion shows. Here is a brief report on what I saw – and loved – and hope that you’ll be wearing next season.
The week kicked off with the Tibi show in the Cabana Grande, the largest of the tents erected for this annual event on the street next to the Raleigh Hotel. The Raleigh’s gorgeous pool stood in for the familiar Bryant Park Fountain. As the week progressed, the fancifully shaped pool stood as a challenging obstacle course between the free flowing bar at check-in and the entrance to the venues to many a thirsty editor in double platforms. The poolside buzz about the Tibi show was very high and the show definitely did not disappoint.
Tibi kicked off what would emerge as a trend for metallic fabrics with their Oscar gold hybrid suit. From my perch mid-runway in the front row, the suit appeared to be a two-piece going one way past me and a one-piece going the other. Either way, the suit is a knockout that will stop traffic wherever you wear it. Prints were also super strong this season. Not since Stella McCartney sent strategically placed pineapples down her runway in 2000 have prints been so strongly engineered to draw the eye to a woman’s â€œassetsâ€. One suit at Tibi featured a graphic print that gave new meaning to â€œthe land of the rising sunâ€. Color blocking gave way to what I called â€œprint blockingâ€, using prints in the way you normally would use color to create optically enhanced silhouettes.
Backstage before her Vitamin A show, designer Amalia Stevens told me that her collection was inspired by her recent travels. The collection featured an international traveler’s palette that ranged from Cote D’Azur neon bright graphics to shimmery desert-inspired earth tones to textured ikat prints shot through with primary colors, many embellished with ethnic metal details. Whatever your taste, a daily dose of Vitamin A during your holidays is sure to keep you looking good poolside or at the beach.
In between shows, I sought refuge from the heat in my deliciously all white suite at the new Mondrian Hotel, which is the only hotel in South Beach that offers sunset views over the bay – and views of Gloria Estefan and Rosie O’Donnell’s homes on Star Island for those who travel with high powered binoculars. From my terrace, I had a bird’s eye view of the swimsuit competition that is just another day of fun in the sun poolside at a see-and-be-seen hotel pool. As I watched women stop short and let others pass before making their grand entrances to the pool area, I couldn’t help but think I had accidentally wandered into the swimsuit portion of the Miss Universe pageant. Swimwear, even when a title and a crown are not at stake, is a fierce competition and the women who wear it are out to win.
One sure way to win wherever you go is to wear V Del Sol. The relatively new Costa Rica-based brand is designed by Veronique de la Cruz, a former Miss France who is no stranger to swimsuit competitions – and winning them! I caught up with Veronique backstage before her show and she told me that her collection was inspired by all the traveling she has done thus far in her life – and a few exotic destinations she hopes to visit soon. In just a few years, V Del Sol has established itself as the source for innovative prints, as well as unique silhouettes that push the edge of swimwear design. Each season, V Del Sol seems to top itself – and the competition. Veronique works closely with the textile mills to create beautiful fabrics that support high resolution printing of the brand’s instantly recognizable prints. This season’s Monument print was my favorite. Paired with color-coordinated solids, the print has the look and feel of hand-painted vintage postcards, the kind your grandmother sent back home from her grand tour of Europe. Make no mistake though; there is nothing grandmotherly about these suits. From naughty nautical for yachting in Nice to sexy Scotch plaids to dangerously liquid metallics, V Del Sol has something for the Bond Girl in everyone.
So, ladies, work your one-pieces for the rest of summer 2009, but, be warned, come November, I fully expect to see you on the decks of the biggest mega-yachts and at all the chicest pools in South Beach sporting the very finest that Swim 2010 has to offer. See you in glutes and abs class!
Image Layout: Minette Higden