On Solarisation and Swimwear
By Alexa Hotz
Photographed by Hanna Tveite
Summer came over night. And here we are, the melanin-deprived public, ready for exposure. Fortified with broad swatches of optic white zinc, bare skin meets the heat lamp of summer. It’s here, in the potent midday light that a molecular choreography begins: the skin absorbs sunlight, and good things—synergistic things—like serotonin, circulation, and circadian balance, happen. Some can’t get enough (the sun-worshippers), while others will entertain the occasional sun splurge; either way, something special is activated. And we have but a few months to get it while we can. The skin, like a strip of film, waits for the light. Here, with the inverse quality of solarised film, the contours of superb swimwear are printed on the skin like tan lines left behind at the end of a season.
Photographers of the 1800s were aware of the solarisation effect, but it was Man Ray and Lee Miller, through accidental discovery, that first used it as a technique. With solarisation, the negative is overexposed in development to create a reverse tonality where light appears dark and dark appears light. The halo-like outline of a solarised image is otherworldly where the skin is blanched and details once unseen are now exposed.
Sunbathing at the beach is like making a sun print with blue photosensitive paper and wispy objects. A swimsuit strap can leave behind its memory on the body long after the sun has set, so choosing a suit for the season is essential. Will you go with a color-block pattern, as from a solid one piece, or the line drawing of a string bikini?
Matteau, the swimwear line from Sydney-based sisters Ilona Hamer and Peta Heinsen, “stands for simplicity above all else,” the designers say. That’s certainly the case with the Square Maillot that makes a clean shape on the skin—its contours hugging the hips and wide straps securing a simple, athletic silhouette.
Now I am clothed in gold air with one dozen halos glistening on my skin. I am a fortunate lady.Hurry Up Please It’s Time by Anne Sexton
Any riviera goer, French or Italian, will tell you that ERES is the uniform du jour. Launched in 1968 by French designer Irène Leroux, the ERES swimsuit is sewn from smoothing peau douce fabric from Italy. It smooths and hugs the body in the right places and moves with its wearer, whether she’s swimming or laying out.
This one keeps the shoulders and chest bare and the central core cinched up with a lace and eyelet closure. (You can give it a try at The Apartment by The Line in Soho, the only New York location to sell ERES in store.)
And finally, it’s a bikini—this one from Matteau. The simple triangle top and bottom, worn with repetition throughout summer, elegantly exposes the body and leaves behind details—like the circular shape of its 1970s-style metal ring.
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Styling Gabrielle Marcecca
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