Thursday, July 12, 2012

Out & About--Vintage Swimsuits Make for a Swingin' Summer at FIDM

The other night I was invited to a delightful vintage swimwear exhibition and cocktail party at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM).  The exhibit was curated by my friend, Dave Temple, who sells an extensive vintage collection called Clever Vintage and is behind one of the best vintage shows in Los Angeles, the Helms Design District Boutique.  The FIDM show--called Swingin' Summer--was a capsule collection of California swimwear and swimwear-influenced clothing from the 1940s through the 1960s.

I am passionate about how significant Southern California has always been in all areas of art, but this is particularly true in fashion.  Swimwear and resort wear are perhaps highest on that list.  As someone who surfs the same beach that was once home of the iconic Pacific Ocean Park Pier and center of Dogtown, I am keenly aware of the influence that the surf and skate culture has had on fashion.  And people often forget that Hollywood itself is a shining example of California style, which of course includes iconic examples of swimwear--from Esther Williams to Marilyn Monroe to Sandra Dee in Gidget.  FIDM agrees, as the introduction to the exhibit states:

Southern California, and specifically Los Angeles, has been the center of fashion and garment manufacturing for many decades.  The climate and proximity to a plethora of outdoor activities have made LA the world's undisputed leader in sportswear production, and no other influence has been greater than the Pacific Ocean and its beach culture.
The bathing suit has become synonymous with the Hollywood Starlet.  And while millions were marketed to by these stars, swimwear styles affected our growing garment industry in many ways.
With influences from the global marketplace, swimwear reflected the romance and allure of travel, leisure, and fun.  Conversely, swimwear and California "patio living" influenced all manner of street wear, sportswear, separates, and accessories from bold prints to briefer lines.

The museum's collection, which also includes a homemade hand-crafted vintage surfboard from 1938, features swimwear brands that often overlapped with Hollywood.  This included favorite designers like Edith Head and Travis Banton working with Catalina Sportswear or stars like Esther Williams working with Cole of California.  You'll also see how the swim styles influenced clothing design in the patterns and cuts as well as all the amazing accessories.  So splash right in...I know you'll come away with a deeper appreciation of the styles that make our summers so hot.

Clever Vintage's Sabino Gutierrez and Dave Temple hug FIDM's Judy Yaras (above)
and I chat with My Vintage Vogue's Jessica Hastings (below, left)

The movie Gidget and surf music greet visitors at the exhibit

Details of the top and bottom of the custom made 1938 surfboard

Everyone who came to the exhibit wore their summer best

Leaving the beautiful FIDM campus


Marline said...

Cowabunga, what a great post! It's a charming exhibit (naturally, the editor in me deplores the typos that abound in that one descriptor paragraph! LOL). But I loved the whole Moondoggie/Gidget 60's scene, from landlocked suburban Maryland. I feel like I visited FIDM and that's a lovely sensation. Thanks for sharing your visit with us, Kimberly! Wonderful job as always! Love, Kay (still pale, pasty and landlocked)...XO

Melissa Clark said...

In spite of growing up near the water here on the Gulf Coast, I've never been much of a beach person. I have always loved the look of beach and swimwear from the '50s and '60s, though. It's so fun and kitschy! Every summer as a kid I'd watch "Gidget" reruns on the local TV station and idolize Sally Field's Southern California surfer look. She and her friends had the cutest bathing suits!

It's interesting to read the information in your pictures and see the influence of Hawaii on California style. In addition to "Gidget," my love of the tropical/beachy look was also greatly influenced by all the mid-century TV shows and movies that took us on a trip to Hawaii. There were a bunch of them and I watched them all repeatedly when I was young. I have a feeling I'm going to be disappointed when I arrive in Hawaii in January and people don't look like they stepped out of "The Brady Bunch," "I Dream of Jeannie," or "Gidget Goes Hawaiian." ;-)

I always get such vicarious fun from your Out & About posts! Thanks, Kimberly.


Kimberly Truhler said...

Whenever I go to FIDM, Kay, I think of you! I know you'd love it. I know you'd love Dave, too. You two could both talk a lot of vintage. Glad you enjoyed your virtual visit with me and looking forward to hearing of your adventures in Florida!

Kimberly Truhler said...

I'm just like you, Melissa...there's something about the style of all those beachy 50s/60s movies and television shows. There's such a mood about them and their style is just so darn happy and relaxing. The prints are usually quite inspired. At the exhibit, I really loved seeing how the swimwear styles repeated in the clothing of the time as well. And the accessories! My goodness. Did BEWITCHED ever have a Hawaii episode? I would have loved to see that wardrobe! lol

So glad you enjoy the Out & Abouts...I think of you and Kay in particular whenever I do them. I like imagining I'm taking my girlfriends along for the adventures. :)

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