Feb 17, 2017 | By Emily Cater
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The Fashion and Textile Museum presents Riviera Style, an exhibition focusing on resort and swimwear since the 1900s. With over 100 pieces on display, the exhibition takes its inspiration from styles deriving from the English seaside, to the Côte d’Azur and California. Showcased are swimsuits and sarongs, bright beach cover-ups, beach pyjamas, palazzo pants, playsuits and more, while the importance of fabric is also highlighted, with early examples that didn’t sag when wet, to more recent technical developments with improved fits.
Riviera Style is organised into five themes, ordered chronologically. The first is 1900-20 Bathing Beauties, an era which was all about preserving the wearers’ modesty, with formal resortwear and knitted one-piece swimwear commonplace. Next is 1920-40, Cling, Bag, Stretch, which explores the innovation of different fabrics including elastic-based yarns in the 30s, a time where top designers began to include resort wear in their collections. 1940-60 Mould and Control follows this, illustrating how designs moved to more sculpted models based on corsetry designs, while manufacturers created more day and beach garments in bright and colourful prints. 1960-90 The Body Beautiful, is characterised by the shrinking swimsuit, as fabric decreased and internal support was reduced, wearers improved their physique through exercise and diet, while the 1990s onwards, Second Skin, sees the modern day level of sophisticated fabric technology and an array of exotic and colourful swimwear styles take centre stage.
Don’t miss the Edwardian bathing dresses, original knitted swimsuits, barely-there lycra and even the Burkini worn by Nigella Lawson on holiday amongst other items. –Emily Cater
83 Bermondsey Street SE1 3XF / 44 (0)20 7407 8664
Runs through August 30 2015
Images courtesy of the Fashion & Textile Museum
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