Swimwear is subject to gaze. Constructed like a second skin on the body, its multi-faceted iterations span the poles of performance and sensuality, and every area in between. For Spring- Summer 2022, David Koma’s study of swimming costumes takes its point of departure in the athleticism core to that duality.
Captured in film at the London Aquatics Centre designed by Zaha Hadid, the collection enters into a dialogue between the architect’s characteristic lines and the
structural properties of the aquatic wardrobe. In a contemporary investigation of classic swimwear, David Koma looks to the legendary champion Annette Kellerman, who popularised synchronised swimming at the turn of the century, and was one of the first women to wear a one-piece swimsuit. Played by Esther Williams in Million Dollar Mermaid from 1952 – herself a competitive swimmer turned actress and pin-up in the Golden Age of Hollywood – Kellerman’s legacy was immortalised through the choreography of Busby Berkeley in an inimitable meeting between athleticism and glamour.
Berkeley’s kaleidoscopic fusion of pro-level synchronised swimming with a showgirl sensibility sets a natural stage for a collection rooted in the transformation of swimwear into day- and eveningwear. Conveyed through the alluring modernism of David Koma’s genetics, the premise generates looks suspended between the codes of casual and formal, realised in colours glamorised from sportswear: pale yellow neon, fuchsia, bubblegum pink, aqua.
A series of tech lycra dresses are hybridised with swimwear with hints at wetsuits, while the plume trims of longer silhouettes mimic underwater movement. Transparent sequins create the illusion of garments recently submerged in water. The memory of swimwear appears in outlines and cut-outs on colour-blocked dresses, conjuring the detectible curves of swimming costumes.
A one-leg leotard as worn by Florence Griffith Joyner – also known as Flo-Jo – the American world record-breaking sprinter.
Evoking the aerodynamic sensibility of garments made for the aquatics, hard and sculpted geometric elements crystallised in embroideries adorn the décolletages and hems of dresses, and pay homage to the form language of Zaha Hadid. They draw a natural line to David Koma’s new handbag proposal: the DK London reimagined in neon jewel colours, with chain shoulder straps enveloped in matching cascading plume.