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VALLEY VOGUE / CINDY LaFAVRE YORKS : In The Swim : Velvet and fishnet offer an interesting variation on summer's skintight suits.

July 01, 1994|CINDY LaFAVRE YORKS | Cindy LaFavre Yorks writes regularly about fashion for The Times

Thick is in for swimwear--not the bodies wearing them, but the fabric used to make them. The flat Lycra so prevalent in previous seasons is beefed up, thanks to tactile textures, print combinations and net overlays for added interest.

Why the interest in raising the look of a fabric designed to be skintight?

"It's something different, but the suits are also quite deceiving because they hide little flaws with their extra texture," says Jean Renna, manager of Everything But Water in Topanga Plaza in Canoga Park, where high-fashion swimsuits sell for an average of $65 each. Renna's swimsuit store features a variety of the textured suits, including a leathery fishnet style echoing the wilds of the jungle. Smooth velvet suits in particular, she says, are getting snapped up by younger girls who wore so much of the crushed velvet separates earlier this winter and, in some cases, even to prom.

The hottest colors for suits this summer are earthy brown, rust, cream and olive shades, Renna says. Though many solids prevail, there is a steady influx of tropical and ethnic prints rounding out the options. Another big change in the swimwear silhouette are the curvy bra cups accentuated with wires for a sculptured look.

More mature customers are going for control, via suits such as the Carol Wior Slimsuit, designed to take an inch off your abdomen. The store also stocks specialty suits for pregnant women, women who have undergone mastectomies and busty women who need bra tops in C, D, DD or, rarer still, E cup sizes. For those needing extra dimension as opposed to support, Renna has suits with bust enhancers designed to increase support and uplift, she says.

Renna also has a next-to-nothing suit that she says is generating a lot of excitement: the modified Brazilian cut--a variation on the thong--that completely covers the rear end. It also has expanded coverage in the front because, says Renna, "too many times the front was too narrow, too--but the suit still has the nice, high arch in the front that women seem to like."

Women looking to spend less will appreciate the gentle prices of Target swimwear, priced from $15.99 to $39.99. Equally trendy styles featuring animal prints, plaids, checks and bandanna prints reinforce the texture craze. Detailing--via braided straps and scalloped edging--also is prominent. Target features a Figure Help Line designed to help minimize or enhance various body parts, while especially hard-to-fit women might check out Target's Sun Separates. The individual tops and bottoms, sold separately for $12.99 each, make it possible for women with varying proportions to customize a suit.

SUGAR, SUGAR: Granted, sugar for some is a moment on the lips, forever on the hips--but a moment on the legs, well that's another thing.

"Sugaring" is the latest in hair-removal techniques. Still offered only by a limited number of salons--Senna Cosmetics in Tarzana is among the handful that do in the Los Angeles area--it is the latest alternative to removing hair without the pain of waxing.

Two sugaring techniques are available--one relies on gauze strips and is similar to a waxing procedure--but the most established and most popular involves a large, sticky ball. The procedure begins with a cleansing and powdering of the skin. The technician then mixes a paste consisting of sugar, lemon and herbs. She forms it into a sticky ball and guides it with her hand across the hairy surface with a repetitive scooping motion, in a sense plucking the hair from its root via a firm massaging motion. The hair is "flicked" off using this procedure. An application of moisturizing lotion finishes the procedure. It takes more than just special training for sugaring to be effective.

"Whoever does it needs to have pretty strong arm muscles, it takes a pretty powerful hand," says Eugenia Weston, Senna Cosmetics owner.

How does it compare to waxing? Weston says the process is less painful and even incorporates a massage benefit thanks to the firm motion involved in removing the hair. It costs a little more but lasts just as long (six to eight weeks minimum is typical, though some clients can go longer.) Prices at Senna Cosmetics range from $7.50 for a lip sugaring to $55 for both legs (thigh to toe). For information on sugaring, call the salon, (818) 881-4911.

PAREO POWER: Looking for an alternative to those corny matching swimsuit cover-ups that line the walls of swimwear stores? More original looks are possible, even downright trendy. J. Crew offers pareos for just that purpose. A pareo is a long wrap designed to be tied at the side or center and is worn like a sarong.

If they are large enough (and the wearer is tiny enough!), pareos can even be worn as tube dresses. They're ideal for travel since they pack flat and function as a garment and an accessory (they make ideal shawls for cool tropical evenings) and extend wardrobe possibilities when packing light.

At J. Crew in the Promenade at Woodland Hills, the wispy cotton pareo, available with stripes, batik prints and summery solid shades, sells for $28 to $38. Savvy seamstresses can make their own out of any 63-inch by 43-inch piece of fabric. The only sewing is a simple edging of the four sides.

In the United States, the pareo has been limited to females, but free-thinking men have been seen on the beaches of Tahiti wearing them atop their Speedo swimsuits. Whether this trend will cross the Pacific and end up at Zuma Beach, however, remains to be seen.

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