Over the last four years I have zipped myself into a PhD research project that has centred on the swimsuit and in particular Australian swimwear design. I must admit initially I had little knowledge or interest in swimsuit design and had always pigeonholed the swimsuit as a non-fashion garment – or as a glamour item for hot bodies – and of course a focus for personal angst at the beginning of every summer.
The starting point was Annette Kellerman, a mostly forgotten Australian swimmer, diver, vaudeville performer, and silent movie actress. What was intriguing was reference to her in costume history sources as the creator of the one-piece bathing suit in the early 1900s and the idea that she was not a fashion designer. From here it was about understanding and tracking how the swimsuit became a designed and fashionable garment. In particular how Australians, individuals like Kellerman and local designers and manufacturers, have contributed to the swimsuit’s success on a global scale.
As part of my role as a fashion and concept consultant for the upcoming exhibition, Exposed: the story of swimwear at the ANMM, I have been involved in scoping the contemporary sub-theme that includes the Woollen Mermaids. This blog represents an exciting outcome by providing QUT students with an opportunity to articulate their personal swimsuit design journeys – to track the process from design inception through to the final garment, and for the public to learn first-hand how this unfolds.
It will be exciting to see how each student responds to the brief – the conceptual exploration – how this is communicated – and of course the swimsuits!