Wednesday, July 1, 2009
Stealth Designer: Rose Marie Reid
“Nothing is so brutally frank as the bare essentials of a bathing suit” – Rose Marie Reid, swimwear designer
Amen! But from this unpromising base, Rose Marie made suits that were frankly devastating on ladies of all shapes and sizes, littering the beaches of mid-century America with homegrown bombshells. As talented in her field as fellow drapery masters Vionnet and Grès were in theirs, her name ought to be better known (there's a great bio and company history by April Ainsworth at Vintage Vixen).
Briefly, Reid was born to Mormon family in 1906, and went on to become the foremost swimwear designer in the United States in the 1950s and 60s. She brought dressmaker design credentials to the making of swimsuits, creating beautifully cut and sensuously draped garments that matched the glamour of buyers like Rita Hayworth and Marilyn Monroe.
Reid’s innovations included lightweight cotton fabrication, tummy control panels, wired bra cups, adjustable fittings and closures. As with haute couture, it is these behind-the-seams details that make sculpture of fabric and form.
A gorgeous Reid suit is now for sale on eBay (at a price that matches its significance in fashion history). Less expensive examples from less clued-in sellers are also easily found on that site, and on other vintage vendors around the web--have a browse and see if you don't find something to suit up your inner Aphrodite.
(advertisement above sourced from the endlessly useful Vintage Style Files)