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Reproduced courtesy Hotel Bondi Swim

Hotel Bondi Swim 'Woollen Mermaid' swimsuit

Date: 2009
Overall: 650 x 350 mm, 115 g
Medium: Nylon, elastane (spandex or Lycra)
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Hotel Bondi
Object Copyright: © Hotel Bondi Swim
Object Name: Swimsuit
Object No: 00046049
Place Manufactured:Australia

User Terms

    Fern Levack and Damion Fuller, of emerging Australian swimwear label Hotel Bondi Swim, designed this women's black one-piece swimsuit for the Australian National Maritime Museum's 2009 'Woollen Mermaid' project. The simple black swimsuit features a single white elastic detail decoration on the bust. The simple cut and minimal decoration reflects the label's outlook on Australian beach culture and women as laid back, unpretentious and independent.
    SignificanceThis swimsuit is representative of the emerging Australian label Hotel Bondi Swim and their response to the Australian National Maritime Museum's 'Woollen Mermaid' project in 2009.
    HistoryFern Levack and Damion Fuller founded Hotel Bondi Swim in 2008. Their Australian made swimwear uses textile prints designed specifically in Bondi, Sydney, Australia. Both designers strongly believe in celebrating the local, eclectic, laid-back Bondi lifestyle. They say, '. . . bikinis are simply the best canvasses for the type of art we like to create . . . every print and every bikini that is created by Hotel Bondi Swim is made especially to express the personality of this colourful and beautifully Australian backyard'.

    Both Levack and Fuller have a Bachelor of Design in Fashion and Textiles from the University of Technology Sydney. Levack started out in the fashion industry with Collette Dinnigan before founding the streetwear label Kitten and Fuller worked as a senior designer for Mambo. Examples of the couple's designs are held in the permanent collections of the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney and Union Francaise des Arts du Costume and Musee du Louvre in Paris.

    Levack and Fuller believe that in the wake of globalisation and the cold interface of technology, people are craving the authenticity of the human touch and a personal dialogue with like-minded passionate people. They define their brand as part of 'The New Luxury Movement,' which is all about original artwork, exclusivity, high quality workmanship and the sheer gloriousness of the materials and details. They are passionate ambassadors of the Bondi lifestyle and Hotel Bondi Swim's bikinis express this authentic, creative, village attitude of one-street-back-Bondi.

    Hotel Bondi Swim is one of the contemporary swimwear designers invited to reinterpret the classic one-piece swimsuit using a technologically advanced wool/elastane textile for the Australian National Maritime Museum's 2009 exhibition 'Exposed! The Story of Swimwear'. The use of this fabric articulates the technological importance of performance textiles to fashioning a modern garment, whilst acknowledging the importance of wool as a yarn to Australia and the swimsuit's history.

    In the early 20th century most swimsuits were produced in wool. There was early experimentation with developing rib-like knits that were more elastic, followed by the use of Lastex, a rubber yarn that created a garment with less sag and drag. In the 21st century, advances in textile technology have resulted in the development of wool jersey fabrics with a high compression Lycra component.

    Looking to the past and designing for the future, the swimsuit designs embody a contemporary aesthetic and active glamour inspired by the original mermaid, Annette Kellerman. Kellerman (1886-1975) was the 'Australian Mermaid,' the 'Diving Venus' and the 'Perfect Woman.' Through a career as a long distance swimmer, diver, vaudeville performer and silent movie star she became a global identity associated with glamour and physical beauty. She was the first woman to attempt to swim the English Channel, and swam her way across Europe and the United States.

    Kellerman was a controversial individual. She was allegedly arrested for indecency preparing to swim along the coastline at Revere Beach, Boston in 1907 and expressed her independence and self-possession through bodily spectacle in daring swimsuits styled on the existing one-piece swimsuit design for men.

    There were initially no modifications made to the original, masculine design; no structuring to the contours of a woman's body, in particular the breast area, and it would not be until the 1930s that designers would feminise the swimsuit, and new technology would assist the development of textiles that would enhance its fit and performance.

    Kellerman's innovation was revealing the female body, which had been concealed beneath layers of clothes and corsets for centuries in the public arena. She was a role model for women, encouraging self-motivation and self-development. Kellerman extolled the virtues of exercise and a healthy diet to shape the body naturally. In 1918 her book 'Physical Beauty: How to Keep It' was published, and it promised that through a series of simple daily exercises in the home, every woman could achieve a level of physical beauty that was essential to the wearing of a body hugging one-piece swimsuit with confidence. As a prototypical Hollywood star she prefigured the celebrity culture focused on the body that has predominated since then.

    Hotel Bondi Swim's design statement for the 'Woolen Mermaid' project reads:

    'Our design silhouette has clear simple lines strongly derived from a love of the independent, unpretentious, free-wheeling Australian beach lifestyle. We design for the typical Bondi woman – she could be Australian, Brazilian, Japanese, English or Thai! She jumps off the rocks at North Bondi boat ramp, snorkels with the blue groper and runs with her dog in the morning along the promenade. Our swimsuit represents a laid back yet competitive and ambitious character we see in women throughout Australia’s history'.
    Additional Titles

    Web title: Hotel Bondi Swim 'Woollen Mermaid' swimsuit

    Assigned title: Hotel Bondi Swim 'Woollen Mermaid' swimsuit

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