Wednesday, July 30, 2008
I have been fairly calm about design lately. Nothing too urgent. But then, after cutting a long shirt into a swim-robe I can't stop thinking about men's shirts for women's swimwear. It keeps up up at night; I am lying in my bed, looking up at the ceiling, thinking of things more grand than fashion (the origin of the stars, or the reason some combinations of musical notes sound harmonious and other do not...) when thoughts of re-cutting men's shirts creep back into my mind. And the fabric - I've always said it's the fasteners that make the swimsuit, but I find myself stuck on fabric and structure. Have you ever seen a properly structured bra? It is an architectural miracle. I told myself I'd post only extra things, little asides on this blog, but I am overwhelmed with the urge to post actual inspiration. I am inspired by the look of a wet blue oxford. Imagine it recut, structured, and properly backed. It just seems like a little piece of perfection. Have you felt a wet oxford shirt? It feels strong like canvas, but soft like a well worn garment. It feels substantial, like a piece of sailing equipment. Able to hold a seam. Will start sketching soon. Rolling the idea of this re-cut shirt on my mind like a favorite piece of candy I want to last and last.
Posted by Serg Riva at 1:39 PM
Thursday, July 24, 2008
My assistant was looking out over the deck of our seaside atelier.
"Rot," he said, and pointed to a section of deck that connected to the side of the building.
The downside of having a facility on the beach is that you are endlessly fighting a war with rot. Water comes from everywhere, seeps into your building and slowly eats away at your foundation, like a nagging regret or a lost word you used to know in another language, but no can no longer remember.
The upside of working near the water is the ability to go kite surfing whenever the wind is up, the ability to product test right outside your doorstep, and the constant soothing sound of waves at night.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Military style: we are all soldiers of culture. Two things are important here - namely the billowing box pocket and the slight roll-up on the pant. Both add fabric to the design, and cover up more of the form - but a little covering creates narrative. Too much exposure becomes dull - like reading the last page of a mystery novel before you've earned the pleasure of the punchline. Not that swimwear is pulp. Swimwear is the mark of our progress. Nothing is more natural than to swim in the nude, but to do so would be to deny all critical distance, all language. With swimwear we name the unspeakable, we mark the continuous as different. With difference, we can break the flow of experience into nouns and adjectives. The ammo belt here does not contain bullets. It contains custom cosmetics - lipstick, eyeliner, sunscreen, blush, concealer, etc.
Posted by Serg Riva at 11:46 AM
Monday, July 21, 2008
How much does your high school style experience stick with you a decade or more past graduation? Recently, I went running on a high school track that reminded my of my hometown. The track looped around the varsity football field, like a belt with the scoreboard as the buckle.
I ran for a while, listening to "Maria Callas Voice of the Century" - which is an all-aria greatest hits collection. At a certain high note, I cut across the field and ran towards the endzone. I leaped up into the air and grabbed the crossbar on the goal posts. I did not expect to get all the way up, as I am old, and the goalposts are high. But I did. My hand wrapped around the yellow bar and I hung by the post for a second and then swung back down to earth. Grabbing the post made a satisfying sound.
I did not play football in high school. So the memories I felt filling my mind were not my own, but were from somewhere else - the collective mythology of the experience of others. Style, I think, works this way. Who has not felt the glamour of others transfered by means of a garment?
I did think of swimwear; can there be a varsity element in the fasteners? Jewelry replaces trophies in our mental treasure chests.
Monday, July 14, 2008
"FAINT, FAINT, IF ANY
...is one of my favorite Diana Vreeland memos.
And yet recently, I've become more and more interested in thick, but well-shaped brows. As a swimwear designer, how important is matching the arch of the eyebrows to the shape of the bikini top? I think very important. The two should speak to each other like siblings in bunk beds.
Here my fit model turns around to look at me, right after I told an off-color joke. Don't worry, she smiled a second later. Look how thick her eyebrows are! Facial architecture worthy of a pritzker.
THICK, THICK, BUT SHAPELY
Friday, July 11, 2008
Worked on a new design this last week for a client. Wasn't sure how it would go. I caught a glimpse of my assistant in the mirror looking truely pensive. He was very concerned (as was I) about the shoulder straps. Too thin and they dig in, to wide and no one smiles as you walk by. It is a dilemma. We went halter. Also, I knew someting was missing, so I called in a long white shirt from Charvet (why not? they dressed both JFK and Marcel Proust?). I had one delivered extra long. I turned it inside out on the dressform and pinned it tight along the side seams. I added a tie as a belt, stitched it all up (or rather, my assistant did) wrapped the whole package in a custom built leather and linen box, filled with additional gifts such as extra-dark chocolate cigars, a carved wooden rabbit, a collection of miniature sunglasses (thanks Oliver P) and a Delila CD, and presented my client a swimsuit with a matching belted shirt-dress swimrobe. She loved tieing and untieing the tie-belt. Must remember to call about the shoes she wanted...
My first bikini design. I was still in school. Notice I hadn't learned yet that fasteners are the reason to get up in the morning. I was so focused on prints. Fabric choices. Also - I hadn't figured out yet how to finish a design. See how everything looks 85% there? It makes me smile, however, that I included a shopping/beach bag and sabrina heels - even at that early stage in my career I knew that fashion is a fiction, and telling a story is as important as choosing a silhouette.
Ran into a friend of mine at the Superheros costume gala at the met. She was wearing one of my one-piece swimsuits as the basis for her Aquagirl look. She wore a white vintage Dior skirt layered on top of an electric orange underslip, which you could just see through the ancient, diaphanous Dior. She finished the look with the most beautiful hand made shoes from her cobbler in Barcelona: bright yellow soles, high heels.
She said nothing to me as she walked by, but her slight smile was enough to let me know that she knew that I knew the origin of her dress.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Went boating. Notice my friend's topsiders. The charm? Pure Serg Riva. You can't see it, but she has a bikini top on under a super-cute wind breaker that has a matching charm. I love the rough edges of the anchor. It makes it all the more enjoyable to know that your swimsuit could harm those who don't take care when embracing you.
Swimwear is really jewelry. The fabric is next to nothing. There is a bit of architecture involved with creating the supports, but for the most part, the fasteners steal the show. A bikini is three triangles and five fasteners. I just happen to make the most exquisite fasteners. Each one is like a little jeweled sculpture. I make bespoke swimwear. I never advertise. You cannot find me in any store. If you know how to get a hold of me, and have more money than hours in the day, and beauty is of great importance to you, than I am your man. Swimwear is our only connection back to the idealism of ancient Greek statuary. Swimwear has replaced drawing is our arts education. We needn't study anatomy, we instead study each other's bodies at the beach.