Bathing suit season invites so many fitting room anxieties, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact, amid the skimpy butts and sagging tops, that bathing suits are clothes, too. They ought not be exempt from fashion, but as a general matter, they are. The only designers to think outside the box, swimwear-wise, are usually Brazilians like Rosa Cha, whose cut-out maillots and barely-there bikinis could strike fear in the heart of even the buffest, Bundchen-esque glamazon.
But there’s a new wave of swimwear arriving this summer, one that ought to bring some style poolside. Norma Kamai and Aussie line Zambesi are both offering retro-style stunners suitable for Esther Williams, while American Apparel, Abaete and recent Parsons grad Brette Sandler aim for a more ‘70s beachwear vibe. Even the basic bikini is getting an update, thanks to established designers such as Alice + Oliva and Ella Moss’s new swimwear collections, and the inventive prints seen on suits from newbies SYLA and Elissa Dunlop, who works with vintage fabrics.
Hard to find but well worth the effort, meanwhile, is Anna & Boy, an antipodean swimwear line launched by two former VOGUE Australia editors. The designers obviously love swimwear, and exploit the medium’s erstwhile design limitations by spraying counterintuitive color and patterns on stand-by bikinis, and bringing a high-fashion sense of proportion and line to one-piece suits. You can even wear them when you aren’t planning to get wet: Along with a pair of high-waisted jeans, the Anna & Boy suits are all you need for this summer’s late-era Summer of Love vibe.