By Meher Castelino
Way back in the 1960’s when I wanted to buy a swimsuit I was totally ‘at sea’ as it were, pardon the expression. The only way was to get a swimsuit from abroad and that too was very difficult since one had to get the correct style, size and in those days it was the one piece swimsuit that was available.
When I wanted to swim it was my faithful family tailor who obliged me by stitching a swimsuit out of the best printed cotton fabric available and the fit left a lot to be desired but that was the best one could get. A little later in the 1970’s brands like Peter Pan tried to design swimwear but were not successful since the fabrics were all wrong and the swimsuits sagged and stretched out in all the wrong places
The real swimwear revolution probably took place when designers Shivan Bhatia and Narresh Kukreja designed swimwear in 2008 for the Mare De Moda show in Cannes and then launched their label in 2010 at the Lakmé Fashion Week Summer/Resort season. That is when the business exploded with nearly every designer adding a swimwear line in their collection during summer. So popular did this category of women’s wear get that in 2011 the first resort/beach wear fashion week was held in Goa when nearly 20 designers showed their lines for fun in the water.
Soon there was a beachwear fashion week nearly every year and this year at the Gionee India Fashion Week 2015 in Goa from 5th to 7th February, many designers who are known for their cocktail and party lines also made it a point to add swimwear to their collections. Of course, there were hard core swimwear labels like Omana and Shriti Pratap who showed only beach wear with accessories for the complete resort wardrobe. What has also given the swimwear business a further impetus is the easy availability of good water proof fabrics like scuba, neoprene and Lycra as well as body control fabrics that help to make the perfect swimwear. In addition fashion institutes like the B D Somani Institute of Art and Fashion Technology Mumbai now have separate design courses for lingerie and swimwear fashion since this category requires besides creativity, the knowledge of aero dynamics and physics to get the perfect fit. Here are nine designers who gave emphasis to swimwear in their collections.
AKSHAY KALMADI AND NEHA BHOGAL
Winners of the Talenthouse India contest, which was organised by Talenthouse India a part of the Reliance BIG Entertainment Pvt Ltd and Gionee India Beach Fashion Week contest held through “Fashion Recruits” a joint initiative between Gionee India Beach Fashion Week and Talenthouse India; the pair created some great beach wear.
For their debut collection, the designing duo used muted colours and fluid silhouettes for the summer line. Inspired by the blues and greens of the ocean, the ensembles were a sun worshipper’s delight. Soft sheer white swimwear covers were splashed with pastel blue hues. Sexy bikinis were revealed under long transparent capes, while layers of sensuous fabrics were turned into mini ponchos.
Tassels and fringes played a major role in the collection for bikinis, tops, wrap skirts, and dresses. The ultra-glam swimwear was restricted to just the tiniest of bikinis in shades of white, sea green, shocking pink or black.
Fabulously sexy and glamorously seductive are words that can describe the slinky cruise and swimwear line from Omana by Harsh Agarwal called “Tropical Dreamscape”.
Omana, the Sanskrit word for woman offered the beach belle a vintage 1920’s look with vibrant colours revolving around cubist art, surreal landscapes of abstract shapes, and details with insect, bird and tropical prints. Bikinis, monokinis, maillots, cover-ups, jackets and maxis were in billowy chiffons, silks and New Age fabrics of scuba and neoprene. Exporting to America and Africa the Omana label is seen on the beaches of Kenya. Bikinis with centre rings and Brazilian touch, halters – some with double twist – tube twisted two-tone bandeau tops, maillots in varying styles, some with body control, monokinis with triple ring styles, were a great offering for the sea nymphs.
“We are a complete beachwear label with an emphasis on swimwear but we also have cruise wear like jumpsuits, tunics, kaftans, and accessories like pareos, scarves, stoles, handbags clutches to add to the resort wear collection. We concentrate on this category of fashion as there is a big market not only in India but the West,” states Harsh Agarwal.
The “HARSH HARSH” Label by Harsh Gupta has been popular since it was launched in 2013. Harsh Gupta’s “Birds of Paradise” collection although catered to the resort dresser who wants to look fashionable for a party or evening of fun, Harsh added swimwear, which could double up as a bodysuit for an evening out when worn with a jacket and skirt.
“I added a swim-cum-body suit because it is a must have when one is designing a beach resort wear line. Besides swimwear now has multiple uses and is seen in and out of the water for many occasions,” feels Harsh Gupta.
Karn Malhotra’s brand had a hot bikini clasped with a jewelled belt, to open the show. Besides the first entry there were several options of swimsuits that could be glamorous pool side attire for the water nymph. “My swimwear is more like semi-formal cocktail attire, which can be teamed with skirts, palazzos, sarongs to make a strong fashion statement,” reveals Karn
Although Raakesh Agarvwal’s collection revolved around denim and its many avatars of tattered, shredded, washed looks he had to bring in a bikini for his beachwear show.
Giving a beach/resort look, Raakesh brought in a sexy yellow play suit and a dazzling tasselled bikini, which made a glamorous impact on the ramp. “Bikinis and swimwear are now very versatile and not designed for only swimming. My versions are for partying and beach soirées, which give the garment several options and so the style is very dressy and ideal for a cocktail evening when worn with skirts, sarongs or even a sari,” adds Raakesh.
Nachiket Barve’s collection was inspired by the Kalahari and Namib deserts of Africa; hence it was called “Kalahari”.
While the designer offered smartly cut jackets, skirts, dresses, tunics he felt it necessary to add swimwear to cater to the sun worshippers. He opened the show with six golden bikinis with varied red sheer covers and then continued to show some more two piece numbers with sheer floor length covers for the water.
“Swimwear is now an essential part of most designers’ collections since the market and demand for this category has grown tremendously. No longer do women have to buy swimwear from abroad since there are designers in India who create international level styles,” assures Nachiket.
PRIA KATAARIA PURI
Since Pria Kataaria Puri is crowned the “Queen of Resort Wear” then nearly every collection of hers has a line of swimwear. For her collection “Haute Hippie”, which had her statement Persian prints in vibrant colours like white, sunny yellow, cheerful red, oriental orange and mystical turquoise all off-set perfectly with the ever popular neutrals white and black; Pria showed colourful bikinis and swimwear with rainbow printed ponchos and covers.
“I must always have swimwear in my collections since they are a part of my identity and since I cater to the resort wear dresser, all kinds of swimwear is an integral part of my designs,” says Pria.
Another hard core beach and swimwear designer Shriti Pratap caters to the water babies with her colourful line of swimwear, which moved from one piece designs to bikinis, monokinis, maillots and tankinis as well as various covers and throws along with kaftans and maxis. Her popular prints of birds, horses, parrots, architectural motifs; as well as leafy florals and geometrics, which are specially designed by her, are in demand for many seasons.
“We use the usual fabrics like Lycra, scuba and jersey and all the prints are created by us and digitally printed for different garments and teamed to form sets and coordinates for the beach. Our aim is to present collections that are luggage friendly and easy to pack for resort and beach holidays,” explains Shriti.
AENASHA SAFI AMIT- AJOUR
Students of the Rachna Sansad School of Fashion and Textile Design also presented collections for beach wear and Aenasha Safi Amit’s line of bikinis with long laser cut floor length capes was a striking addition. Swimwear and capes never looked more sexy and inviting in shades of champagne, blue ombré as well as shaded beige. Inspired by Moroccan lanterns here was beach wear that spelt sophisticated confidence for the global traveller.