A bathing suit is an object of vulnerability, unease and waste. It starts from the internet and reality disconnect. "You see a photo on the internet of a hot model wearing the swimsuit. When you receive it and try it on yourself, the fit is terrible," founder and designer of her eponymous swimwear label, Leslie Amon observes. An ill-fitted swimsuit cloaks the wearer in discomfort – revealing the body and all of its inadequacies – and is promptly kept away indefinitely after a summer vacation to the beach.
The 28-year-old founded her eponymous brand last June, in a bid to address all these salient problems with the swimwear industry. Before that, she was formally trained in the orthodox ways of womenswear. Amon apprenticed at Lanvin, Giambattista Vali and Maison Michel before graduating from Central Saint Martins in 2016. In her graduate collection, Amon brought swimwear to the runway. "In my collection, there were huge ballgowns and skirts made entirely with terry cloth. All models wore bodysuits bold, brightly coloured mesh – half swimsuit, half bodysuit," Amon recounts.
The swimsuit is, perhaps, the most challenging garment in the womenswear repertoire, "because it's all about the body." The swimsuit has to fit the body snuggly, not too tight or too loose – there is little margin for technical errors. Unlike dresses and coats that can be fitted on tall, lanky models in the design development process, swimsuits immediately become irrelevant if they were fitted on aspirational body types. "That's why I try all the prototypes on myself and not on a model, so I can really feel the cut, proportion, fit and material."
Amon cuts her bathing suits generously for the real woman – she stresses that she will never produce skimpy bikinis. There is more coverage, more fabric involved. "They cover more skin," Amon quips. She avoids using thin, loose, and elastic materials that often cling unflatteringly to the body. Instead, Amon goes for thicker, weighty Italian fabrics that "are very close to what we use for clothing. Italians are the best when it comes to fabrics. All the big fashion houses have Italian fabrics." Owing to the demanding nature of swimwear, Amon does not choose fabrics based on small swatches. She makes prototypes and tests them out before deciding.
The final designs are later produced in a factory in France, two hours away from her home in Paris. "So every time I have a problem I can go to the factory in a few hours and solve it."
Each season, Amon releases an average of seven styles "in different colours". These are swimsuits that do not look like swimwear. They can be tucked into a pair of denim jeans and worn out to a brunch or dinner. "You can wear all tops as real garments, and one-pieces as bodysuits," Amon adds. Ideally, this extends the life-span and wear-cycle of a swimsuit.
Yet, more than stylistic permutations, what matters more is the confidence Amon's designs offer. At the end of the day, swimsuits should not leave the wearer feeling over-exposed and vulnerable. "It needs to be comfortable and women should feel confident in it."
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