Insights • Inspirations • Destinations • Design

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Glamour & Grace of Vintage Bathers

A few weeks ago I made one of those serendipitous discoveries that makes your afternoon a little brighter. I stumbled over a new website devoted to one of my favourite photographers, Dare Wright (below).

Dare was one of those astonishingly brilliant, gifted and incredibly stunning women who seemed to be able to do anything, from modelling for top magazines to writing bestselling books, to photographing shoots with her classic Rolleiflex; shoots that still look gorgeous, even today. She looked just as good in  front of the camera (see below) as she did behind it.

I'm so pleased to see there's a resurgence of interest in her work at the moment, led by a new website (, a new book and quite possibly a movie as well. Her life was quite tragic, but the legacy of images and words she left mean she will always be remembered.

Inspired by Dare's gorgeous beach style (above) and also by a great post by Slim Paley, here – SWIM, about the revival of vintage bathers, swim caps and syncronised swimming, I thought I'd do a post on the glamour and grace of vintage bathers. It seems like the perfect thing to take our mind off the miserable winter here in Australia! (And the perfect thing to inspire the Northern Hemisphere as they head into summer.)  If you're heading somewhere warm in the next few months, I hope this offers some lovely inspiration.


Great robe. Even more gorgeous hat. {Via Vogue}

To sweet to get wet. Lilac and white petal swim cap, from Saratoga {via}

Balloons and beachy chic. {Uncertain of source. If you know who to credit, do let me know.}

With this swimming cap, you don't really need to wear anything else! Karlie Kloss by Steven Meisel for Vogue Italia.

The line-up. A collection of bathing caps in the pool room of a friend's house (Mickey Robertson at Glenmore House in Australia.)

Pink perfection. [Via Conde Nast Store.]

Casual in a cardi. {Via Elle Germany 2011}

Dancing queens. 'Demi-Plie' halter maillots with ruffles by Marysia Swim. (Tutu not included.) {}

Darling, where's that drink you promised me? Oh my goodness, you're not the man I married! {Via Elle Germany 2011}
Classic glamour. {Via Vogue}

Cinematic elegance. Keira Knightly in Atonement. {Via Atonement publicity}

When Jack met black: 'The Swimmer' – the painting from the movie Something's Gotta Give
(Jack Nicholson actually suggested this artist for the set design; he has an art for art and thought this piece would give the set a summery lift. The artist is Kenton Nelson –

John Rawlings for Vogue. {Via Vogue}

{Source unknown}

Via Slim Paley. {}

Ulla Anderson, 1964. {Source unknown}

Karl Lagerfeld's Resort collection for Chanel, staged at The Raleigh's iconic baroque pool in Miami, scene of Esther Williams' original movies.

Cool in Chanel. A maillot from the 2012 collection. {Source unknown}

[Top image: Source unknown. Bottom image: Vogue cover.}

Floral fantasy. White petal swim cap, from Saratoga {}

[Sources unknown.}

[Source unknown}


  1. Love these images - they had some of those frilly bathing caps for sale in DJ's at the swimwear counter. The sales people told me they actually sell quite a lot!
    I'm liking the retro look - I prefer a one piece now that I'm pretty much chasing after 3 children trying to drown themselves, rather than reclining by the pool. A bikini that requires adjustment doesn't cut it.

  2. Glamour and grace indeed. The perfect description for such elegant creatures. Now if we could all just look as elegant on the beach, it would be a very pretty scene.

  3. You've outdone yourself! loved meeting Dare Wright and re discovering John Rawlings, you've sent me on quite a journey. Found a Rawlings photo of Gene Tierney in 1946 that would break your heart.

    Aren't the cossies gorgeous, loved seeing the Jantzen diver again. The pink scooped back one piece and the B&W Chanel. Let's face it they're all great!


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