Search the Collection
Advanced Search

Reproduced courtesy Anna & Boy

Anna & Boy black 'Woollen Mermaid' swimsuit

Date: 2009
Dimensions:
Overall: 690 x 340 mm, 103 g
Medium: Wool, elastane (spandex or Lycra)
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Anna & Boy
Object Copyright: © Anna & Boy
Object Name: Swimsuit
Object No: 00046075
Place Manufactured:Sydney

User Terms

    Description
    Anna Hewett and Lill Boyd, of the emerging Australian swimwear label Anna & Boy, designed this black one-piece swimsuit for the Australian National Maritime Museum's 2009 'Woollen Mermaid' project. The swimsuit's low leg and modest silhouette harks back to the original swimsuit worn by Annette Kellerman. With triangular mesh panels on the sides, a triangular shaped keyhole in the centre and details such as lace cut-outs and a reinforced bust, the swimsuit accentuates the female form and embrace a cheeky frivolity.
    SignificanceThis swimsuit shows the design emphases of Anna & Boy, one of Australia's new generation swimwear brands, both in the representation of its 2009 collection and its imaginative response to the Australian National Maritime Museum's 'Woollen Mermaid' project. Anna & Boy's 'Woollen Mermaid' project swimsuit highlights a modern aesthetic inspired by the original Australian mermaid Annette Kellerman.
    HistoryAnna & Boy was established in 2005 by former Vogue magazine colleagues Anna Hewett and Lill Boyd. The pair gradually identified a lack of inspiring swimwear, which motivated the development of their label. Their fashion design and visual communications studies along with industry experience have combined to create chic, fashionable swimwear with a strong emphasis on unique prints and clean simple lines, for both men and women.

    Anna & Boy 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.
    Additional Titles

    Assigned title: Anna & Boy black 'Woollen Mermaid' swimsuit

    Web title: Anna & Boy black 'Woollen Mermaid' swimsuit

    Related People

    Discuss this Object

    Comments

    Please log in to add a comment.