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Jantzen Diving Girl logo reproduced courtesy of Skye Group

Women's Jantzen swimsuit

Date: 1930s
Overall: 720 x 450 mm, 0.3 kg
Display dimensions: 610 x 450 mm
Clothing size: 40
Medium: Lastex
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Jennifer Smyth
Object Copyright: © Jantzen Diving Girl logo Skye Group
Object Name: Swimsuit
Object No: 00015849
Place Manufactured:Australia

User Terms

    Manufactured in Australia by Jantzen, this 1930s Lastex swimsuit incorporates a 'v'-neck, low scooped back and a quarter skirt for modesty. Its flattering narrow cross-back straps, vertical panelling, and shaped bust with multiple darts were designed to create a feminine body line.

    SignificanceThis swimsuit is representative of swimwear styles prominent during the 1930s. It is also an important example of the use of new textile technologies during the early 20th century.

    HistoryThe 1930s saw both men and women revealing more of the body, which was a trend encouraged by the new craze for sun bathing. The body's aesthetic was functional, sleek and streamlined. Men finally went topless, wearing swimming trunks and belted wool knit shorts with a half skirt for modesty. Women's swimsuits went backless, and were often accessorised with coloured rubber surf caps to complete the streamlined look of the outfit.

    Knitted one piece close fitting swimsuits, known as maillots, defined the 1930s fashion for women's swimwear. Their design, often featuring a scooping back, followed the trend of women's evening dresses of the period. The look was simple and elegant, creating soft curves that contoured the body. Attention was drawn to the back by the use of different types of shoulder straps such as halter-necks, cross straps and cutaway straps. The French designer Elsa Schiaparelli patented a backless maillot with a built in bra to promote strap-free tanning.

    The maillot's development was influenced by the revolutionary development of Lastex in 1931. Introduced into America and elsewhere in a variety of versions by companies such as Jantzen, Cole of California and Catalina, the yarn has an elastic core wound around with cotton, silk, rayon or nylon threads. The use of other recently developed textiles, such as shirred cotton fabric, gave a figure-hugging silhouette to women's swimwear.

    The new body shape promoted during this period reflected changes in the political climate of the time, with the growing emancipation of women in the home and at work. Such changes were reflected through swimwear fashion, however it was not until the end of the 1930s that the maillot was generally accepted into public view. Significantly, the incorporation of the skirt and high neckline in the Jantzen swimsuit ensured a certain amount of modesty for the wearer.

    Related People
    Maker: Jantzen

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