Welcome to my Woolen Mermaids Swimwear project blog! Basically, I aim to share my experiences during the design stages and creation of my swimsuit on this blog and provide some insight into the development of a fashion concept into a finalised garment.
My initial research into swimwear included some basic history of early swimsuit design and function, although I tired of this fairly quickly and felt that this had been covered already by Christine and Dean in our studio classes. I started to consider what the concept of swimwear means to the majority of people, how do they view and feel about the role it plays in society; particularly in Australia due to our history of beach culture. I became intrigued with the notion of swimwear as a highly sexualised garment. Not unlike lingerie, swimwear is usually skimpy and designed to flatter both men’s and women’s bodies. However, there is a difference between swimwear and lingerie in the functionality of swimwear design ie: the swimsuit is fashioned using minimal fabric, cutouts etc to allow the wearer flexibility and aerodynamics in the water. From this viewpoint, I wanted to explore the concept of swimwear as a sexually charged garment by subtly (and sometime not so-subtly!) alluding to cliches and stereotypes in fashion design with my own swimsuit design.
I began research into artists throughout history who have used sexuality and erotica in their artwork for one reason or another and began to draw comparisons between them. Firstly, I looked at Davinci’s Vetruvian Male, Botticelli’s Venus and Rennassance Nudes as a classical standard of nudity and sexuality in visual art. I also discovered work by Australian photographer Max Dupain who is celebrated for his interwar documentation of Australian beach culture and the obsession with the athletic body. From these artists I took a jump forward to contemporary photographers and artists such as Terry Richardson, Ryan McGinley, Wolfgang Tillmans, Walter Pfeiffer and Nan Goldin who collectively use sexually charged imagery and often clichéd erotica images in their works. I was extremely intrigued with the comparisons between past and present notions of sexuality and beauty and also the use of the underbelly of society as means of conveying the real world in art, again both in the past and present.
I investigated these concepts thoroughly and began to design my swimsuits. For some of the designs, I simply worked with embellished fabric to highlight sexual areas of the body such as the breats, crotch are etc. In other designs I alluded to sexual stereotypes such as the G-Strings, Bra Straps and Jock Straps showing through the garments. I felt it was important to make the “undergarments” show through clearly and I used embellishment to do so, as well as reversing the usual construction of an outfit, for example putting mens underwear on the outside of a bodysuit and bra straps built into the upper half. I did not want the garments to look subtle, rather clearly suggest something sexual in a non-sexual way.
In conclusion, I felt quite happy with my final designs and truly believe that I have successfully conveyed my concept in fashion design.
PS. I’m going to put up some pictures of my designs and tech drawings soon, just need access to a camera!! In the meantime, here’s a cheeky picture of me hard at work in the studio.