The more one collects, the more you realize that it really is all about the good stuff. If you read any book or article targeted toward the beginning collector you will read that you should, “Buy the best you can afford.” It’s true.
I do a lot of thinking about the pieces that really need to be represented in my collection. One such item is a glamorous black 1950s bathing suit. I actually had one – a Jantzen – but it just did not give off the sophisticated vibe I was after. I sold it.
So I was back at square one, with no black bathing suit of my dreams. Luckily, I have friends.
I have written about Style and Salvage before. Mel and Jeff are two of the most knowledgeable vintage sellers I know, and to have them in my own backyard is an incredible thing. They have sourcing secrets that go way beyond the local resources, and I’m always amazed at the incredible things they turn up.
On a visit a while back I knew I’d found my black 1950s bathing suit.
From 1956 through 1959 Jantzen made a line of bathing suits, some with matching cover-ups and skirts. French couturier Hubert de Givenchy designed suits for the line in 1957 and 1958.
For Jantzen and only for Jantzen, Givenchy, the free-spirited ringleader of creative art in the Paris couture, has designed a marvelous collection of avant-garde swim suits. This is one, “Antibes”, in fabulous new elasticized crepe, in inspirational modern art colors. $25
Twenty-five dollars was pretty pricey for a bathing suit in 1957. The inflation calculator puts it at almost $230 in 2019 dollars. That could be why these are so rarely seen today.
Sometimes good design means knowing when and when not to embellish. Givenchy knew this suit needed only a small bow to anchor the straps.
Thanks to Style and Salvage for the use of their photos, and especially for the exceptionally fine suit!