The exhibition

Exposed! the story of swimwear is an Australian National Maritime Museum travelling exhibition.

Movie sirens, aquatic stars, bathing beauties, athletes, sporting icons, swimmers and designers all played their part in the evolution of the modern swimsuit. Blurring the boundaries between underwear and outerwear, the swimsuit continues to make shock waves.

Australian swimwear is placed in a global context, showing how Australian swimmers and swimwear designers responded to their environment, to the strong local swimming and beach culture, and to international fashion trends.

From the 1900s swimwear evolved from hidden, almost medicinal outfits for bathing and soaking to more functional, fashionable garments – and an essential item of leisurewear. Australian designs reflected changes in taste, customs and international trends.

The exhibition will explore popular culture, and the designers and personalities who influenced swimwear development. Before 1910 Australia’s mermaid Annette Kellerman and her contemporaries created a new modern look, not only for the swimsuit but for women.

Australia’s appetite for swimwear created a local industry on the back of a developing knitwear manufacturing base. Speedo, founded as MacRae Knitting Mills in 1914, became a household name for sporting suits from 1929 with its innovative Racer-back design. It remains a dominant brand internationally. Innovations in design and textile technology remain a strong feature of swimwear development.

Exposed! the story of swimwear highlights the designs and designers, past and present, at the forefront of Australian swimwear fashion.

Exposed! will be at:

Australian National Maritime Museum, Darling Harbour,  Sydney from  2nd July – 25th October (free entry)

Western Australian Maritime Museum, Freemantle from November 2009 to February 2010

South Australian Maritime Museum, Adelaide from February to May 2010

Exposed! the story of swimwear is supported by Visions of Australia, an Australian Government Program supporting touring exhibitions by providing funding assistance for the development and touring of cultural material across Australia.