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A blog with a daily splash of vintage swimwear, vintage fashion, news, designer profiles and all things retro.

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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A Small History of The Gold Swimsuit

The gold swimsuit has always had a place in history, today we look at how it all started.

Rose Marie Reid was not shy when it came to making modest bathing suits and had a knack for knowing what would sell. Sometime in late 1945 or early 1946 Rose had developed a stunning new fabric for a swimsuit that would become enormously popular. While in New York buying fabrics she noticed a roll of metal yarn on the desk of a fabric company executive. It was being used for braids and trims. Rose Marie asked for a piece, took it back to her hotel, and dipped it in salt water, thinking if the yarn didn't rust, she would have it woven into fabric. When it didn't tarnish, she bought 20 yards of each of the silver and gold yarn, took the tread to a weaver and swore him to secrecy.

The debut of Rose Marie Reid, Inc., of California took place in Los Angeles on September 20, 1946. The feature finale was her beautiful gold metallic swimsuit. The suit sold for a whopping $90. (over $1000. in today's dollar), when most swimsuits at this time sold for $6.95. The metallic suit was the hit of the show and upset the market like a tidal wave. It was such a sensation that she had to turn down three out of four buyers. It was the feature of Apparel Week. Pictures of beautiful models wearing the suits appeared in newspapers all over the country. Rita Hayworth's studio bought one for her, and Rose Marie Reid was instantly famous.

The construction of the Rose Marie factory had begun in 1950. She buried a time capsule containing one of the gold metallic suits that had made her famous. The capsule was to be opened in the year 2000.

Rose Marie Reid also designed a precious metal swimsuit of black lace and 24 kt gold plating in 1951. This rarity sold for over $100 exclusively at Lord & Taylor that's over $800. in today's dollar.

This ad from 1951 for Cole of California features the 'Gilded Lily' swimsuit made of lastex and 24 kt gold, yes, GOLD!

Fast forward to 2007. Ginza Tanaka Jewelers in Japan unveiled a 24kt swimsuit. Designer Akihiko Izukura says that "It's designed to be swam in, but since we've never tried it, Ginza Tanaka has to take responsibility and they can't guarantee that it's ok." 500 grams of thread twined with 6 wires of 90 micron thin 24K gold. It took 32 days to make and is priced at $82,000!

I'm sure there were earlier swimsuits that the Egyptians possibly made of gold, but we give credit to Rose Marie Reid.

And lastly, let's not forget those swim cap manufacturers. This is a fun example of a fabulous gold lame rubber lined swimcap is available at Glamoursurf

1 comment:

puddin said...

And then the gold swimcap!