From the look of the suits in the recent ISAM (International Swimwear and Activewear Market) extravaganza at Universal Studios, any woman who wants a new G-string bikini will have to go to Brazil to get it. And anyone who believed the show's title, "Swimwear of the Future," must have been disappointed.
Out of 178 designs for cruise and summer, shown in a fast-paced display (interspersed with Miami-Vice-style rough and tumble stunts), there wasn't a single thong-style suit, only a few excessively bare bikinis. And as for the futuristic swimwear promised in the show's title, the closest to it were two sliver lame creations by Danskin, a show-piece neoprene "diver-bride dress" by Robin Picone for Body Glove, and the show's most unusual, wearable works--a stunning Byzantine-print bandeau and matching palazzo pants from Gottex.
ISAM officials allowed exhibitors to show only two suits each at the Universal Studios event. But the entire Gottex collection was seen earlier in the day at the Beverly Hilton, during a benefit luncheon for Israel's Assaf Harofeh Medical Center.
Top model Tami Bon-Ami was imported by Israel-based Gottex for its "Fashions for Peace" show, during which words of peace were delivered by guests Hasiah Begin,daughter of former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, and Jihan Sadat, widow of former Egyptian president Anwar Sadat.
The Gottex collection was a sumptuous array of couture-look, Italian-fabric suits, all with matching cover-ups, including the season's favorite, the sarong skirt. Unusual animal motifs, vibrant tropical florals and patterns based on tiles in Istanbul's Topkapi Museum were among the 48 prints. A solid gold, satin-Lycra fabric was used for a group of "Goldfinger" suits that had all the design details of evening wear, including lavishly fringed, wrap-skirt cover-ups.
No matter how slick or suggestive the Gottex styles, ranging from bikinis to what a spokesperson called "suits with bra cups for the more mature woman," they were able to fully cover a woman's behind.
Complete seat coverage suits were in the minority, indicating that a lot of women will still have to play tug-at-the-rear in 1990. (Among the exceptions were heyday-of-Hollywood sarong-front suits from the Esther Williams line, Cherokee's two-piece skater-skirt design, Cole's skirted polka-dot suit and Huit's nautical-look maillot with a large middy collar.)
Other spring trends included fresh-looking polka dots, sensuous tropical prints, ethnic-inspired patterns, a heavy dosage of neon-lime with black or hot pink and only a smattering of stripes. For women who like true conversation pieces, there were two memorable ones: Disney Swimwear's Minnie-Mouse-decorated maillot and a face-print suit from Why Things Burn.
After the show, neoprene queen Robin Picone said her "take on a brides' dress" (complete with a neoprene corset, see-through chiffon skirt and a veil-decorated neoprene swim cap) will not be available in stores.
But she was prepared to make it by special order, noting "the chiffon skirt would look very good underwater; it would billow." The price? "Maybe $399.99"
Just a drop in the bucket for California's swimwear industry, which an ISAM official calculated to be an $800-million industry.