Lindsay tackles the intriguing history of the bathing suit and Caitlin discusses the iconic life of fashion designer Vivienne Westwood
History of the Bathing Suit
Bathing suits are a Relatively new concept. up until around the 19th century people would take a dip in their birthday suits, primarily for bathing purposes. By the mid 1800s swimming began to be seen as a sport and fun recreational activity, partly due to the accessibility of railroad systems that allowed people to travel to lakes and oceans. With the influx of recreational swimmers (many of whom did not swim but more like waded) the expectation to cover up while in the water or at the beach became more expected.
Not everyone was happy with being forced to suddenly wear clothing, however the requirement to wear a bathing suit won out (in America at least). The coverage of swimsuits was even policed in many places. Women, in particular, would even be measured by the “swimsuit police” (Pictured below, left) on the beach and could be fined or jailed for inappropriate bathing wear.
More bathing suit freedom emerged in the 1940’s with the ability for women to wear two-piece bathing suits that would show a small amount of their Midriff. In 1946 the bikini was designed by Louis Reard in France. There was controversy surrounding it and he had trouble getting models to wear the revealing ensemble, so he hired Parisian Showgirl Micheline Bernardini to model it (Below, Right). The bathing suit has kept evolving in silhouette and materials, from ultra small bikini’s, to the advent of the tankini in the 1990’s, and the Implementation of elastane in swimwear. Swimsuits continue to reflect zeitgeists and cultural differences on the “appropriate” amount of skin to show at the beach or pool. This topic is still debated around the world from allowing nudity to Burkas and Burkinis.
Dame of Punk Fashion: Vivienne Westwood
Vivienne (Swire) westwood was born on April 8th, 1941 in Tintwistle, Cheshire, England. In 1958 she and her family moved to Harrow, Middlesex and she subsequently studied silversmithing at Harrow School of Art. She stayed for one term before leaving saying later “I didn’t know how a working-class girl like me could possibly make a living in the art world”.
She began working in a factory and studying at a teacher college, leading to her
becoming a primary school teacher. In 1961, she met Derek Westwood at a dance. They were married on July 21 st 1961, then They had their son Benjamin in 1963.
They were together until she met Malcom McLaren. With help from his love of punk music Vivienne fell in love with punk idealism and the idea of disrupting the system as well. He convinced her to cut and bleach her hair, creating the punky spike hairdo popularized with the punk movement. They worked together to create punk fashion . and went on to own a shop together. Their shop more resembled pop-up shops or exhibitions, with the name and theme often changing with the clothing. Her clothing has pushed the boundaries for approximately half a century, from her days on the punk scene, to her high fashion runway shows. She has and Continues to make her mark on the Fashion Industry.
Top 5 ways Vivienne Westwood changed fashion:
She pioneered the use of underwear as outerwear
Created The Mini Crini (Pictured Above)
revival of corsets
Her shops (from the 70s and 80s in particular) have influenced our current culture of pop up shops and combo gallery spaces offering retail and art
She is credited with paving the way for designers like Alexander McQueen and