FA2L is for anyone who cares about beautiful things–clothing, shoes, accessories, home furnishings–and the interconnected tribes of those who make, sell, market and desire them. If something speaks to you, buy it now or hold your peace: there are links in each story, so the item you want is just a click away. I'd like to hear from you, too: please view my profile, use the email button and send me your comments.MG

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Bikini–So Much Fashion and So Little Fabric

Perhaps you've noticed: FA2L is slightly obsessed with life at the beach. The combination of sun, sea and sand takes us back to Eden, hints at the deep mysteries of life's origins, feels as nourishing as the womb and injects a straight-to-the-bloodstream rush of sensual pleasure. (Plus, despite knowing better, we're suckers for a real tan.)

We also love swimsuits, and not just because we love the beach. The best swimwear is fashion distilled, and requires much more than cosmetic design–it needs to be
engineered. Beautiful ball gowns may be odes to technique, but their folds usually hide endoskeletons (either built-in, or created with foundation garments) providing substance. Only a few couturiers–such as Vionnet, Chanel, Balenciaga and Karl Lagerfeld (depending on his mood)–have celebrated the ancient idea of letting a garment find shape on the naked female body. But that's precisely what swimwear designers accomplish.

Innovative fabrics are a starting point, but then the hard work really begins. Curves must be celebrated, yet supported; a balance has to be struck between modesty and daring; and most women, even supermodels, want to highlight assets and camouflage defects (real or imagined). All to be managed with a few scraps of material small enough to squash in one hand.

Some people balk at the high prices of well-made swimsuits–like those by
Eres, above, shown to advantage on extraordinary Lara Stone–but they're usually worth the investment. Of course, like anything else you wear they require care: sunlight, salt water, lotion and chlorine take their toll. To extend a suit's life, take it into the shower with you and rinse it in a steady stream of cool water. Then hang it up or spread it out on a clean towel to dry (but keep it out of the sun, and away from heaters). Welcome to summer!