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Bathing Beauties : Esther Williams Designs Swimwear for Women Who Dare Not to Bare

May 13, 1990|Barbara Foley

"These swimsuits are for women who usually say, 'Oh, no--not swimwear again ,' " says Esther Williams, the amphibious movie star from the '40s and '50s who learned so much about what to wear in the water that she launched her own swimwear collection last year.

As one might suspect, much of her inspiration has come from poring through scrapbooks of vintage photographs and closely examining videos of her movies with co-designer Mattie Hillel. Beading, shimmering fabrics, wrapping and tying, and generally more-covered-up suits are Williams' signature. A gold metallic "Neptune's Daughter" suit has a sheath silhouette with artful seaming and soft boning for shape. Still others have halter tops and shirred bodices lifted from evening wear.

"Younger girls are discovering that this old-style glamour is fun and more attractive than brazen swimwear that shows all," says Williams.

Hair: David Cox, Celestine/Cloutier; makeup: Kim Carillo, Celestine/Cloutier; models: Amanda Hull, Click (in purple) and Ines, Prima (in gold and orange)

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