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Women's one piece Black Lance swimsuit

Date: 1930s
Overall: 625 x 210 mm
Clothing size: 38
Medium: Wool
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Swimsuit
Object No: 00004829

User Terms

    This knitted woollen swimsuit reflects the 1930s aesthetic of a functional, sleek and streamlined body. The swimsuit is composed of a 'v' shaped back, and three vertical panels forming a half skirt for modesty. The design also features hand-stitched horizontal tucks around the bust to create a feminine body line.

    SignificanceThe swimsuit is representative of 1930s beachwear fashions produced by Black Lance in Australia.
    HistoryThe 1930s saw both men and women revealing more of the body, which was a trend facilitated by the new craze for sun bathing. 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, also known as maillots, defined the 1930's 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.

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