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Under Cover : New Designs Just Go to Show That Subtle Can Be Sexy Too

April 23, 1993|JOANNA DENDEL

Contrary to Sports Illustrated's view of things, the latest word in swimwear is subtle.

"The 'Here I Am, Baby' look is definitely out," says swimwear designer Toni Southern.

For the past three years, Robin Piccone has designed swimsuits with skirts, high-necked tops and trunks as bottoms.

"At first these suits were misread as missy or corrective swimwear--something to disguise major figure flaws. But the reality is that nothing will hide a bad body--especially three yards of spandex!"

This year, her more covered-up suits are checking out of the stores faster than ever. Who's buying?

"Fashion-conscious women who want to look chic, not cheap," she says.

Cole of California, the company that made swimwear history in 1964 with a black mesh maillot called the Scandal Suit, is also featuring suits with skirts, higher necklines and more covered-up bottoms this year. Designer Anne Cole calls them "buttoned-down but still sexy.

"The difference between swimwear then and now is that today, women don't have to advertise their sex. They know they're sexy," she says.

Southern, who calls her line See Jane Swim, is inspired by men's bathing suits from the '20s and '30s. One of her favorite styles is the "tomboy jumper," a checkered unitard that could easily be mistaken for body- or street wear.

"Women are like tomboys today," she says. "They're confident, aggressive and love playing sports. They have their own sense of femininity."

Location where the photos were taken: Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel pool, Beverly Hills

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