North against South; it’s a bikini war!

by Marlies Dekkers

Well, maybe not quite a war, but the world of beachwear is divided into two very distinct camps. Which side are you on?

I had, of course, noticed it before: in some cultures, women are not afraid to ‘let it all hang out’ on the beach, while in others, women prefer a bit of coverage. Think of the thong-wearing Brazilians versus the bathingsuit-loving Scandinavians.

But it wasn’t till I started designing swimwear that I learned that this is an actual phenomenon, and that fashion insiders speak of ‘Northern’ and ‘Southern’ countries when it comes to our preferences on the beach. A big part of it is geographical: North America compared to South America for example, or Northern Europe versus the Mediterranean countries. But a lot of it has to do with attitude.

The brands that cater to the Southern part of the market –Agent Provocateur and La Perla for example- have a tendency to put form over function. If you want frills, they’ll give you frills, even if those frills have a tendency to shift when you take a dive. Hey, as long as you look fabulous! But there are usually only 4 sizes available per style, so it’s very hard to find a bikini or swimsuit that fits absolutely perfectly. The funny thing: a true ‘Southern’ girl doesn’t seem to care. As Southern bombshell Sophia Loren once famously said: ‘Everthing you see, I owe to spagetthi.’ So what if some of that fabulousness cannot be contained by your bikini?

And then there are the Northern brands like Chantelle, Aubade, and Marie Jo. I count my own brand amongst them, because I decided early on that fit is very important to me. A Northern girl likes her curves just as much as a Southern girl; she just doesn’t like them spilling out of her swimsuit. And if she enjoys wearing a push-up bra under her clothes, she might expect her bikini top to give her the same kind of confidence on the beach. So for each theme, I design different styles to flatter all the different body types out there. And instead of merely 4 bikini-top sizes, you can choose from 24! Not the easiest way for a designer, I can tell you that, but to me, offering you confidence is my main motivation. ( I sometimes wonder if a ‘Southern’ woman wouldn’t prefer to have that same kind of choice, if her favorite brands offered it to her..)

So what are you? A Northern or Southern type? A Grace Kelly or a Brigitte Bardot? A Taylor Swift or a Sofia Vergara? Why not pick and choose, like Rihanna, who wears my ‘Northern’ designs on stage but does her holiday chilling in ‘Southern’ little nothings? After all, I believe in having your cake and eating it too, and finding the matching bikini to boot!

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