Monday, July 30, 2007

Shiro Gutzie & Shay Todd end the day by presenting the sexy Shay Todd Cruise 2008 Collection at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Miami.

Shay Todd presented a tempting yet sensual collection filled with innovation and creative style for the woman who likes to stand out. Spotted sitting front row was Smashbox Studio Cosmetics founder Davis Factor and billionaire “bad boy,” Brandon Davis.

Text, Vivian G. Kelly
Photographs, J. Ecochard and Richard Spiegel

Timestamp: Friday, July 13, 9:15pm - 10pm

Backstage: 9:15pm

The hair designed by the stylists at Miami’s Van Michael Salon grabbed our attention as soon as we entered backstage. It was right in keeping with the 60’s goddess mandate. The elaborate updos looked like “La Liz” [Elizabeth Taylor] wore it in the 1960’s “Cleopatra” in some of her steam scenes with co-star Richard Burton crossed with Jane Fonda’s iconic mane in “Barbarella”. The Smashbox Cosmetics team did a smashing job with the makeup, which was right in the same period. Think of all the sultry faces of Sophia Loren and Brigitte Bardot as they appeared in the countless photographs that were taken of them in the 60’s. Obviously, these two actresses have served as inspiration to hordes of hair and makeup artists for decades and will for years to come.

The Shay Todd Show, 9:35pm at the Cabana Grande, the Raleigh Pool

We liked it before even seeing the first model; as usual we studied the run of show placed on our chairs, thoughtfully provided by the TARA Ink. PR team. The exits had great names, “goodbar bikini”, “Barbarella” and “James Bond brief” which evoked the all-out glamour of the early sixties.
While the lame suits certainly lived up to their names, the accessories added an interesting seventies twist. Lucite “Candies” looked good and kept things from appearing one -dimensional.

We love lurex, especially when it comes to Shay’s cover-ups. Who would have thought to wear a purple lurex mini before seeing this show? The designer’s mini with ruched cuffs looked fantastic as did an aquamarine lurex long sleeve dress devoid of any ornamentation. Our congratulations to the designer for exercising self-restraint and recognizing that the fabric and color are enough, all on their own.

You’ll be saying, “Prints please” after having a look at Shay’s “lacquer bamboo” [leaf print] chocolate brown and emerald green, equally striking in maillots and bikinis. Our favorite, the emerald green maillot, hands down.

There was more brown, to come, via a “Sausalito: terry cloth jumper dress and ruffles took on a sexy edge in a café au lait and fuchsia bikini edged with lemon yellow ruffles. Another winner, the pink and green bra style bikini with a square tortoise shell buckle that Ursula Andress might have changed into in “Dr. No”.

The best came late, in the final grouping of retro chocolate and emerald rectangle print pieces. On a final note, Shay Todd shows that she is a wise woman indeed. While she cuts one heck of a sexy suit she wisely modifies the difficult tanga cut so that it falls just on the right side of wearable.

Friday, July 27, 2007

ANK by Mirla Sabino at Mercedes-Benz Swim Week

ANK by Mirla Sabino Cruise 2008 Collection

Timestamp: 7:45pm, Friday, July 13

Celebrated Brazilian swimwear designer Mirla Sabino unveiled the Cruise 2008 collection of her ANK swimwear line to an approving crowd. Ms. Sabino’s beautiful collection reflected an organic color palate and uncomplicated shapes combined with distinctive prints and unique shell and stone detail work. All of these elements came together in a line that is now synonymous in our minds with the term, “modern elegance”.

Text, Vivian G. Kelly
Backstage photographs, J. Ecochard
Front-of -House photographs, courtesy of Cece Feinberg Public Relations

The ANK show at the Beachway tent, the Raleigh Pool

Italian designers are known for delivering sexy, whether it’s in-your-face Robert Cavalli sexy or quirky Prada sexy. Ms. Sabino is not Italian, but she designs like one. She showed a more forgiving and flattering cut that the 30+ woman will appreciate. The bottoms were cut just high enough, but not too high making it a possibility to wear these beautiful suits without having to resort to liposuction.
While it’s always fun to pick up a novel new suit, you’ll always want that perfect black bikini in your drawer. Ms. Sabino had the perfect one, a black bandeau bikini you’ll wear over and over again, because it’s so flattering.
Kicking things up a notch were the black and gold abstract print bikinis and a suit with a bronzy-beige gold over bottom that looked fresh and new.

Cover-ups are covered, 100% here and we found it hard to choose. Our vote goes to the abstract purple mode stripe poncho style top/mini.

Best Suit in show award goes to exit #22, the lime green and taupe twist top bikini.

The neutral mushroom/taupe color was prevalent throughout and was a major factor towards creating the impression of luxe elegance. This shade looked well against different skin tones ranging from well-bronzed skin to the palest of skins. Sounds simple, but as in the cosmetic world, it’s really difficult to come-up with a universally flattering shade. Neutral also opens up the field of possibilities when it comes to accessorizing your outfit. The gold jewelry by show collaborator, Citrine by the stones, served to highlight the taupe-y suits and worked best when limited to just one piece.
For evenings lounging on the yacht, look no further than the exquisite pointelle v-front tube dress. Maybe you’ll wear it with one of Ms. Sabino’s elegant 40s style bra style bikinis as you make your way down the Italian Riviera.

Citrine by the stones jewelry available at

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Models at ASHLEY PAIGE FOR GIRLS GONE WILD strut their stuff with Bay County Humane Society puppy

Timestamp: Friday, July 13, 5:00 to 7:00pm

Text, Vivian G. Kelly
Photographs, J. Ecochard

What we loved [in addition to the Ashley Paige for Girls Gone Wild collection]:

Ashley Paige’s sexy pieces will undoubtedly cause a sensation on the buff College Girls who will be donning them a few months from now come Spring Break. We’re also confident that this hot California designer will rack up a ton of editorial credits in the next swim issue of Sports Illustrated this winter.This show had New York style energy and comparable front row-age that included Tyson Beckford, Kim Kardashian, DJ Clue, Brandon Davis and Jamie-Lynn Sigler.

We love that Ashley Paige showed her ethical side as well. In addtion to being one of the hottest swim and cruise wear designers around; here is a designer who’s not afraid to share the spotlight with the needy. Ms. Paige introduced one of the Bay County Humane Society’s adorable “celebrity” pups and took him for a victory lap with her and her partner, Jenn Malini at the show’s close. Dogs have been used before on the runways, but in this case, we felt this was a completely sincere gesture on the designer’s part and we applaud her for it, 100%.

* To adopt or inquire about the Humane Society of Bay County, please call Mary Sanger Executive Director. Tel. 850-625-7054.

Backstage, around 5:00pm

Backstage at the Cabana Grande is best described as a rainbow of color. It was clear that this was a big show, as soon as we spotted Brazilian supermodel, Omyrah mugging for the camera and like everyone else backstage, she was having a ball. On the table were some of the best shoes of the week – 5 inch cork wedges with 70’s souvenir store style rainbow scenes hand painted on them. The sexy 70s vibe reminded us of Stella McCartney’s tropical fruit collection that landed her countless editorials that season and helped make her a star. It was clear that Ms. Paige is a star in the making, if only by the number of boom mikes, video cams and photographers crowding around pre-show. The models sensed it too, and accordingly as in at Bryant Park, put on a show for the cameras.

The Pre-Show: front of house at Cabana Grande, the Raleigh Pool
The feel-good vibe continued front of house as the audience milled about and sang-along to oldies like “Looking For Love” from the Urban Cowboy Soundtrack. The guests seated next to us agreed that D. J. Menelik who was spinning, really WAS “amazing” and that the upbeat tunes were right in synch with the fun retro styles we’d peeked at backstage. More than one of us made a note to go pick up a copy at Virgin Records the next day.

The Ashley Paige for Girls Gone Wild Show, @ 6:30pm

From the first outfit that came down the runway, “cup cake short shorts overall with gone good knit bandeau”, it was easy to see just why Ms. Paige is getting so many editorial credits [we counted an amazing 20+ in the most recent Sport Illustrated swimsuit issue]. Any girl in her teens and 20’s will love the adorable picnic blanket poncho, Florida gulls lycra one piece and flower patch halter [bi]kini.
We’ve already established that swim designers are using the swim shows to show those cruise cover ups that sell very well, thank you, at retail. After all, you can’t lie on the beach all day, you’ll eventually want to get up and go to lunch somewhere. The brown “reversible each wrestler” top is tiny but if you’ve got a ripped body, it qualifies as a cover-up.
For the more modest, there’s a long linen A-line skirt that looks great with a sparkly navy bandeau top. Whatever you wear though, accessorize it with the towering hand painted cork wedges Ms. Paige showed throughout the show.
If you thought souvenir shop prints were tacky, think again. In Ms. Paige’s able hands, they’re flat out irresistible. There were enough of these 70s modal Florida girl souvenir shop prints in citrus shades to make a strong California beach babe statement. The modal Florida Girl souvenir shop halter dress takes the prize for best cover up in collection.

Best moment on the runway:
Seeing Omyrah walk in an asymmetric sparkle [bi]kini. This coral and aqua sliver of cloth requires a high degree of swagger and self-confidence and the designer couldn’t have chosen a better model to wear it.
For those of you who actually want to participate in beach volleyball, there are some sport super stripe terry two pieces and t-front maillots that are just the thing.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

DE & DR Debut their very first collection in the US at Mercedes- Benz Fashion Week Miami Swim

The Event: the DE & DR show [Don Eduardo et Donna Rosallina], US launch

Timestamp: Thursday, July 12, @ 8:30pm

Text, Vivian G. Kelly
Photographs, J. Ecochard

The back-story:Italian designer, Deborah Martinelli Bonavia debuted her first collection of beachwear for [mostly women], men, and children giving US buyers and Press an idea of just how comprehensive her line is.
Breaking it down, the line consists of four main groups: women’s collection, family luxury beachwear, resort [cover-ups], and diamond-cut couture, which means, made-to-measure swimsuits that are produced in an authentic couture manner. This is an appealing idea, as we noticed that quite a few of the designer swimsuits at other shows didn’t fit the models as perfectly as we assumed they would, at this level of design. Prior to launching her swim collection, Ms. Bonavia designed swimwear collections for Krizia, Kenzo, and Roberto Cavalli.
Ms. Bonavia presently lives and designs in her London atelier with partners Rico and Pierandrea Semeraro, who are members of one of the most influential families in Puglia, Southern Italy. In addition to their involvement with DE & DR they have investments in real estate, entertainment, food and wine.

The DE & DR show at the Beachway Tent, the Raleigh Pool: Even If you’re not a hat lover, you’ll love the huge sunflower hat that opened the show and accessorized the matching sunflower yellow one-piece maillot. The sheer multi colored dresses, in both long and short lengths are a cinch for beach to brunch dressing.
Accessories have become an important component in the swim/resort shows and that was no exception here. The most stylish bag of the week was Ms. Bonavia’s garagantuan cream, navy and red color block Birkin –esque bag that looked great with an equally enormous floppy canvas hat that would make it impossible to see the wearer’s face. Stars-in-hiding, take note!

For sporty types, there’s a two-piece marigold and tangerine sunburst suit in the DEDR Active range.
Italian designers have long been getting kudos for their elegant design aesthetic. Although it’s hard to image a thong bikini being elegant, Ms. Bonavia’s were, especially her cream tie front halter with narrow orange piping.
Sportswear was well represented although we were somewhat puzzled by the complicated grape colored gown that seemed to attach with jeweled ropes. It was an interesting proposition but fell a bit short, as it looked overworked in comparison to the rest of the well-executed easy pieces on the runway. On the flip side, the designer managed to breathe new life into the hackneyed nautical theme. The navy linen mini dress with tiny clusters of dangling seed pearls sewn on the front was a winner, no question. Wear it over the white bikini top and high waisted black bottom, both accessorized with tiny self-covered buttons and you’ll be the chicest woman at the Club.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Badgley Mishka launches cruise collection at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Miami Swim

The Show: the Badgley Mishka swimwear debut

Timestamp: 7:35pm, July 11th

The place: The Raleigh poolside, the Beachway tent

Text, Vivian G. Kelly
Photographs, J. Ecochard

While we loved the accessories that were liberally piled-on, the swimwear itself fell somewhat flat and didn’t seem representative of what this talented design team is capable of. Think back to the days of Pierre Cardin and Halston who became over-licensed and gradually lost control of their original image.
IN this show alone, there were: shoes, handbags, jewelry, sunglasses, hats,and of course the swimsuits.
BM customers will be sure to pick-up the great floppy straw hats with colorful print scarves tied around the brim, as well as some of the look at me necklaces, such as the gold rope one with an oversize amber pendant. The sunglasses were the best we’ve seen so far, large and oversize and oh so glam. The bags were spot on, large and structured, the silver bowling bag [gray is THE color for fall] goes from the pool to the office to lunch.
The suits themselves were more for the woman who lounges, not plunges, into the pool. The rhinestone buckle details on the breastbone, shoulders and hips are just not chlorine friendly. Many designers are dropping in some resort pieces in their swim collections, so it made sense to show the matte jersey olive column evening gown.
Best in show: the ruched halter maillot worn with a small matching turban and the toned down lame tankini screamed “elegant!” These two suits seemed more in keeping with the Badgley Mishka RTW aesthetic, and hopefully we’ll be seeing more pieces like this next time around.

The hair & makeup: Pure glamour, Cote D’Azur style, black liquid Bardot eyeliner, long smooth ponytails, beige lipstick, and a tan you can only get if you’re a regular on a yacht year-round.


Text and Photos-J. Ecochard

Every once in awhile, one comes across inspiring fashion types with timely ideas, who go for it, get a bit lucky…and are still BFF material!

Yup. This is what’s to LOVE about the biz.

On meeting two Memphis gals behind the racecar lovin’ clothing label TrackCouture the love fest for them and their clothes is a go.

The women, Lisa Heros and Kathleen Smith got motivated after having major fun at NASCAR races…BUT were less than enamored with the traditional blue and orange logo men’s gear. They also noticed that other women fans (50% of attendees) - also lacked cute, fitted, feminine logo frills! So with samples in hand (no boring PowerPoints here) they secured a licensing deal with NASCAR on the first pow wow… and just as they launched their own chicette TrackCouture Clothing line, too.

Featuring girly pink, black and white t-shirts, cotton terry cloth skirts and hoodies with in the know expressions like”pit lizard” and ribbed tanks (made in the USA)…the line also sports logo emblazoned separates for fans of- Nextel Cup champion Tony Stewart,, MB2/MB Sutton Motorsports Team of drivers, Penske Racing drivers, and Roush Racing drivers.

Predicition? This merchandise line will rev up wardrobes from coast to coast...and take the place of those ubiquitous comical monkey tees (you know the ones).

In baby and girls sizes too!

Held at the Bryant Park Hotel

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Red Carter Cruise 2008 gets a standing ovation


The event: The Red Carter show, the big tent at the Raleigh

Timestamp: @ 7:30pm, pre-show interviews

Text, Vivian G. Kelly

Photography, J. Ecochard

Backstage, during our brief pre-show interview, with designer Red Carter,
Red appeared relaxed for someone who was about to have a fashion show. He stopped his pre-show preparations to give us the highlights of the upcoming show. “We’re doing the theme thing, it’s a mix of safari, burlesque/cabaret, and techno-eighties which is athletic inspired. The point is that we’re not natural beings, and we’re making fun of it here.”
Perhaps most exciting were the bags hanging on the racks that were launching that very evening. The styles are classic silhouettes, many with removable liners in the same impactful prints he uses for his suits and sportswear. The one that really caught our eye though was an oversize black nylon tote with a snowflake created from round and square orange Lucite chips. From his perch up in the heavens, the former Stephen Sprouse must be smiling and nodding his approval.

Backstage Makeup watch: MAC artist Lara Vickery, Regional Director of Artist Training, Southeast pulled two trends from the RTW Fall shows: "graphic" and "Technicolor".
"Graphic" was achieved using white and gold eyeliners to create a frame around the eye.
Technicolor came via a vivid orange matte lipstick. Note: if you're going to wear lipstick in a startling shade this fall, keep it matte.
The only thing that remained to finish the look was some bronzer and contour blush to pop the models’ already razor sharp cheekbones.

The hair: “best hair” award for this year’s round of shows goes to Oribe and his talented team of guys who never disappoint when it comes to creating knock-out hair for Red’s show. [They’ve been working from Red from the beginning] This time, to go with the techno theme the Oribe team used black obviously synthetic wigs which look just like the tinsel used to decorate Christmas trees. The wigs were cut into severe bobs with Cleopatra bangs. One special wig was Pippi Longstocking red and worn by the model Red took his victory lap at show’s end with.

Preshow: On our way out, we caught up with John Marazza, Red Carter’s business partner
outside the backstage tent to hear about the company’s expansion plans. We applaud him and Red for taking the slow and steady as it goes approach, and keeping their operation internal. This is a relief to hear after having witnessed many talented designers come and go, many jumping too far, too fast, only to find that they had to cancel shows, and worse, founder about in search of a new backer to come to their rescue.
Mr. Marazza was particularly bullish about the addition of sportswear to the line and tipped us off that we’d be seeing some great cover-ups in silk, pima cotton that would transition from the pool to lunch and cocktails. The responses so far back at the Miami Convention Center where potential buyers were inspecting the latest collection: “excellent”.

The Red Carter Show, Cabana Grande aka the big Tent

It’s only Mr. Carter’s third show season, but he’s already a certified star, that much was apparent from the pre-show excitement and mob scene as well as later at his after party held at the Shore Club’s Red Room which reminded us of the fracas at Studio 54 in its heyday.
The well-produced show had the theatricality of a a Dior show. Like Mr. Galliano, Mr. Carter is a skilled showman. He opened Part I with a Miami Beach tropical fruit salad, which included a lace up coral halter suit and a punchy floral print bikini with handy patch pockets, one on each nipple. The nude cutout maillot with aqua/red geometric print resembled the beadwork on Native American clothing. This Pocahontas-y look brought us back in time to John Galliano’s Pocahontas collection. Lest you thought you’d had enough of animal prints, you’ll reconsider after seeing Red’s oversize leopard print pieces shot with Swarovski crystals. Pair the leopard bikini with the sheer puff sleeve blouse and you’ve got a potent naughty and nice combination going.
The Burlesque/Cabaret had one of the few men’s looks shown on the runway. The black monokini with a black and white grosgrain belt will be a hard act for most guys to follow, but not out of the realm of possibility after spending a year religiously working-out with your personal trainer.
The new clear handbag with removable liners in wild prints added to the eighties vibe of a solid turquoise one-piece edge with black piping. The cut out suits in lime and black would have been scooped-up pronto by eighties glamazons Grace Jones and Brigitte Nielsen.
Not that it’s a popularity contest, but Mr. Carter received a rousing standing ovation.

Amir Slama presents Rosa Cha Cruise 2008 at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Miami Swim

Event: Backstage with Rosa Cha designer, Amir Slama

The place: Poolside at the Raleigh Hotel, 18th & Collins

Timestamp: 6:40pm, July 11, 2007

Text, Vivian G. Kelly

Photography, J. Ecochard

We had a few words with Rosa Cha designer, Amir Slama before he presented his cruise 2008 collection poolside to a gaggle of buyers, press, and industry V.I.P’s . Rather than the typical seated runway show, Mr. Slama had the models walk about the pool deck in an informal modeling format, which worked beautifully with the laid-back atmosphere at the Raleigh.
Mr. Slama, “Amir” to everyone in the biz, is one of the most personable designers we’ve met to date. In his latest collection, he successfully takes-on the alchemy between art, history, fashion and attitude. While showing select pieces from the collection, Amir spoke of his inspiration for the 2008 line.
“I was inspired by the Tropicalism movement that took place at the end of the 1960’s. Tropicalism was a bunch of movements mixed-together – Surrealism mixed with music, and poetry. What is especially interesting is that it was an attempt to take what was a success on a local level and make it universal. In the case of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, they were able to take their music from their part of England and turn it into an international sensation.”

Bringing it back to the bathing suit business, Amir believes that what women want right now is comfort. While recently in New York, he noticed “many young women wearing casual dresses that could easily go from the beach to the streets and vice-versa”. Consequently, there were a good number of beautiful cover-ups in strong colors on the racks that were miles removed from the simple sarong cover-ups that will do for a trip to the beach but not for much else. There are resort wear pieces mixed in, such as dresses featuring plunging necklaces inspired by Parangoles, the famous moving sculptures by Brazilian artist Helio Oiticica. Also on the line are floaty shifts, and separates such as bubble tops and dresses.
Sometimes a suit is more than just a suit as Amir proved when he held up an intricately hand-embroidered nude bikini with Jane Mansfield style pleat work that qualifies as couture. It’s so exquisitely made that you’ll want to keep in your bathing suit collection for years to come.

Beach baby hair: The Beach Boys [what’s left of the group] might well have been singing about the models that artist Rob Scheppy styled to walk for Rosa Cha.
How to get beach touseled locks: Says Rob, “Roller set your hair, letting it out at the last moment when it’s hot and humid. Next, F—k it all up with pomade and move it around with your hand until you like the way it looks."

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Swim 2008: Gideon Oberson at Miami's Convention Ctr

The event: The Gideon Oberson 2008 Swim/Cruise Collection

The place: The Miami Convention Center

Timestamp: 4pm, July 11, 2007

The venue: on a mini catwalk in a secluded cabana set up in the back of the spacious Convention Center. If you don’t choose to show in the glamorous Raleigh setting organized by IMG, then this is the way to do it.

Text, Vivian G. Kelly
Images, J. Ecochard

The show kicked off with eco- inspired bamboo leaf and raffia prints from the new Gideon Oberson Private Collection. “Genius is in the details” applied here, the spider web backs on the maillots and cats cradle straps on the fronts were at once technically impressive and aesthetically pleasing.

When we thought it couldn’t get any better, Mr. Oberson brought out his extensive Gideon Oberson Collection, which consisted of 15, yes, 15 story groupings. Among our favorites were the scarlet bull’s-eye “Spiral” group, “techno”, overblown red and blue peonies on a newsprint background, “coffee bean”, large flower petals in parrot bright colors and coffee beans that popped on a white background.
For those of you who eschew prints, the pieces in the “Palmona” segment are a sure bet. The mink brown and olive twist front maillots reminded us of the classically stylish leotards and wrap tops worn by ballerinas. Best in the group is the “Warp Around Shirt: in mink, an item that would easily transition from the pool to dinner out.
If you’re looking for some great cover-ups, look no further than the ankle length caftan in Mr. Oberson’s stylish orange and gray “firecracker” print, and the Short Kimono Blouson in black and brown from the “Chestnut” group. And finally, there was the halter neck tankini in “Echo”, an abstract art print of aquamarine and kiwi stripes over a gray and black nuage background.
Mr. Oberson’s show spoiled us, and raisedthe bar way up there for designers showing at the Raleigh as part of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Miami Swim.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

SWIMMING Splashes Down In Miami Beach

A Tradeshow Review of the Swimwear Association Of Florida-Spring/Summer 2008

Text and Photos by J. Ecochard

For an arguably seasonal item of clothing –there are surprisingly gazillions of vendors at this annual tradeshow ...hawking dizzying numbers of collections that beg for year round sales. Touted as the largest tradeshow for swimwear in the world, this epicenter of all things swimming showcases domestic and international lines of men, women, and children’s- performance gear, cover-ups and naturally, swimsuits.
In fact some precious pieces are so elaborately embroidered, beaded and bejeweled that the jet set aura of Beverly Hills/Riviera/St.Barts pool culture has deliciously broadened its reach. ‘Wearing’ perma tans, Barbie Doll or sleek coiffeurs, dazzling high strappy heels and major bling along with the swimsuits- are now the norm...and adorn bodies as day-to-evening wear.

What’s Old News

The 2008 cruise and spring lines gushed creative designs in rainbow colors and prints, high quality fabrics and flattering cuts. There are differences from 2007’s show- however. Losing steam from last year’s musts is this year’s limited use of crocheted styles…with appearances at mostly youth oriented brands. At XoXo … “the magazines just zeroed in on this look…especially the white crocheted cut-out waistbands against the skin,” says a busy sales spokeswoman. In demand editorial labels, Anna Kosturova multi-hued crocheted bikinis and a Le Doux crocheted ivory bikini - also channel the sexy bohemian vibe..

Also missing are gingham/plaid fabrics and the rampant nautical inspired looks from 2007. There are fewer girly, frilly looks too, the exception being Betsey Johnson’s collection, and the ruffled necklines and waist bands decorating the retro swim pieces at Skinny Dip, the drop dead elegant white maillots of Kymare, and the vintage sweet cherry print fabric used by BIG name brand Jessica Simpson. Sixties prints seem largely limited to splashy florals, or the always-chic luxe paisley prints of high-end Italian line Etro . But Audrey Hepburn (always chic) inspired a line of graphics in 2007- by Barcelona label Jordi Labanda . That's still selling well.

Notably, children’s goods, like their elders' garb, are more polished-though logos splattered on Havaianas’ Warner Bros. line and licensed Hello Kitty swimsuits continue to sell. Japanese favorite Barcode Kitties have yet to make a debut.

Going Strong

Other trend highlights continuing from last season’s are separates like tankinis, skirtinis and mix and match swim sets. “The American markets demands we sell tops and bottoms separately, “ says Nicolas Fourchet, a spokesperson for Monaco based Banana Moon -a mammoth European sophisticated junior sporty line that is taking a dive in the USA markets. Other popular 21st century looks that hark back to the 70’s and 80’s- are the revealing looks of sexy monokinis. Additionally, the increasing importance of cover-ups and hoodies as a percentage of sales, and profits, rules. Says Marcia Hacker of Sauipe Swimwear - a Hot Hot Hot Brazilian line-“we upped the line this year with complete looks” which included graphic tropical floral and fauna printed tops with matching drawstring bottoms, and revealing monokinis with cut-outs and metal O ring details, wrapped by sarongs in deliciously silky feel, fabrics.

Construction, fit and quality of fabrics are still clearly priorities as nearly everyone who could- strongly emphasized the fabrics, cuts and manufacturing processes that are NOT from/made in China.

Says Michael Monterio of At Swim, an upscale designer swimwear line, “ we are made in the USA…for better quality control.” In fact the At Swim by Alisa Trombley are “amazingly fitted” and feature a practical attached pouch for keys as well as lingerie inspired touches – another huge trend-like adjustable straps, removable pads and intricately seamed panels in maillots for tummy control. Carol Wior, purveyor of Slimsuit “the suit that takes an inch off” has so many intricately constructed elements in her Los Angeles, CA made line- that the swimwear seem spawned from architectural drawings. Wior says that her tummy control side panels “capture everything” while “the exact placement of straps and underwire…and bra cups not sewn to the elastic straps… allow for more stretch and better fits.” The line- in deep, rich solid colors like tomato red, jade green, aqua blue, black and white combos and her leopard prints with polished gathered and twisted details- draws accolades from celebs like Oprah and Mrs. America contestants. Her daughter Niki Wior’s Slim a Size line, features more youthful polka dot prints and higher leg and lower arm cuts for- a curvy younger woman.

Aerin Rose, known for her bra-like separates and Profile, also offers up fashion forward but less revealing swimwear in classic solids as well as fun, contemporary prints for the growing misses category. And retailer favorite Becca is also conscious of top support needs (for natural or implant reasons)…as she cuts wide band halter tops.

Gottex and Canada’s Christina bathing suits have a reputation for outstanding fit; they are one of the first to use a high percentage of trademarked Lycra in their fabric mix. The FantaSizer line composed of 52% Lycra- comes in colors of ocean blues, chocolate browns, solid black, and this year’s hot ethnic print fabrics. Other fabrics that help with fit and recovery use unique compositions of nylon/polyamide/elastane/spandex/microfibers...and are comfortable and durable. Name brands using the new textures include the stretchy metallic mesh woven fabrics in sparkling diamond flecked black and gold flecked brown tones- in XOXO’s sleek monokini, the shiny space age metallic blue, deep V neck maillot by Sauvage, surf proof, chlorine resistant materials from Body Glove's line of a comeback design of high waisted, belted suits and silver gray, cap sleeved, hoodie cover-ups, the high performance Micro Serge Twill fabric of wave riding board shorts by Beach Rays , and the sun protected swimsuits lines of Kristy J’s SPF/UPF 50+ adorable short sleeve paisley printed tops and matching solid boy shorts, and MaxOut UV Swimwear for newborns to children’s ages- in perky solids and graphic prints that kids love.

Saturated monotones, particularly shades of bright red, sunflower yellow, sea aqua or cobalt blue and espresso browns, and the posh elegance of black and white combinations are in nearly every collection. Again, women still like jet set worthy snake and animal prints in zebra strips and leopard spots as seen on the sophisticated ruched bra top and hipster by Diva by Rachel Pappo. What’s new is the lean towards more modern graphics designs. Best examples of this are the Mediterranean inspired geometrics seen at the sexy Cia Martima by Benny Rosset runway show at the Raleigh Hotel.

A perfect combination of cheeky whimsy on the part of the models and a colorful St. Tropez/Ibiza palette of sea blues livened up the offerings of flirty, skirted maillots, Brazilian style bikinis, python graphics and feather light cover-ups. Rock and roll, edgy prints are big for teen brand Hot Tuna . Plus, ethnic and jungle prints are everywhere…sourcing African, Pan Asian and South American origins. Some of the best examples are from the fabulous Peruvian line SABZ and Italy’s Miss Bikini . Florals are huge- a la Tahiti-in bright reds, sunny yellows, deep pinks and fresh lime greens. New accessories like the resurgence of wide brim hats and beach bags lined with sturdy printed canvas- complete a head to to ensemble.

Trims like metal O rings, chains and buckles in gold and silver- add a decorative modern edge-as in a black two piece from Brazilian line Opera . Big or small jewelry/brooch details also add interest…in natural materials of shell, mother of pearl, wooden beads or more glammy sequins and rhinestones.

Swimwear styles for females run the gamut....from revealing Brazilian (high leg, high waistband) and Californian bikinis (lower side sash ties or retro attachments on hips, more coverage on the bottom), to boy cut shorts and hipsters. Skirted suits, tainkini tops and numerous versions of halter tops, bandeaus and bra-like supportive and simple triangle tops, often with cute beaded or metal grommet details, monokinis with striking cut-outs and maillots-in various shapes and necklines-performance oriented or not-are also headed for store racks.

In other words…there’s a swimsuit out there for everyone…even if your dayjob is delivering packages- (DHL’s Lands’ End board shorts designed for Mercedes Benz/Miami’s Swimwear show).

Just make sure it’s in stock!


Backstage (at ANK) and on the tradefloor, Michael Kors Leg Shine - a deoderant style (comes in 3 colors) tanning stick, is a hit with designers and models...imparting a hint of glimmery/bronzy tint that "won't rub off on clothes."