Museum Quality

Catalina Cole of California LACMA Margit Fellegi museum Ocean Inspired Pacific Standard Time Rudi Gernreich surfboard swim suit vintage

We recently visited the LACMA to see their Pacific Standard Time show. Pacific Standard Time celebrates art in Los Angeles created from 1945 to 1980 and runs until April 2012. We found many pieces of surf and swim wear included in the exhibit at the LACMA include this 1950 polka-dot swimsuit by Cole of California (above) and the 1949 lobster swimsuits by Catalina Sportswear pictured below. From LACMA; California women's fashion made it's strongest mark in swimwear. Two of that industry's giants, Cole of California and Catalina, were located in Southern California, along with many of their smaller competitors. Bathing suit designs closely reflected the playful styles of the era, and some even came with coordinating accessories for poolside comfort, as in Margit Fellegi's cheeful polka-dot swimsuit and jacket ensemble for Cole. By the late 1940's a more curvaceous female body had emerged as the fashionable ideal, and swimsuits became more heavily constructed, architectural, and dresslike. Flexible Lastex yarn and firm, fusible materials used for suits' inner corsetry allowed women's swimsuit-clad bodies to be molded into an idealized silhouette. However, the iconoclastic Rudi Gernreich used wool knits without understructures to create suits that clung daringly close to the bodies of unfettered wearers.  


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