vintageswimwearThroughout the historical timeline of the swimwear industry there have been some groundbreaking designers who played a huge part in its evolution. Hollywood also had a starring role by greatly influencing public perceptions of style and ideals of glamour in swimwear. Vintage swimwear expert, Pam from explains.

Swimwear designers are an infamous bunch. Some came to the industry from a personal interest in form and function while others came from the Hollywood studios. Family connections also played a role.

Rose Marie Reid

In 1937 Rose Marie Reid began to design and sew her own swimsuits. She was a passionate swimmer and grew dissatisfied with the prevailing styles of the time. In her first year of business she grossed $10,000. Her line of one piece suits were unique, featuring shirring and draping typically associated with evening gowns.

Reid’s designs grew so popular that Emilio Pucci designed for her in the Fifties with colour-block Ponchos, sandals and beach caps.


Meanwhile, in the Forties Catalina hired several of Hollywood’s most famous designers to work on designs for them headed up by none other than Mary Ann DeWeese. These designers included Milo Anderson and Orry Kelly from Warner Brothers, Edith Head from Paramount and Howard Schoup from MGM.

DeWeese is credited with innovations in the use of texture, including jacquard knits and appliquéd stretch cottons. She also introduced ‘sweetheart’ swimsuits and matching sportswear for men and women. DeWeese left Catalina during the Sixties to form her own company, DeWeese Designs. In 1960 she designed diving suits for the US Olympic team. After DeWeese left Catalina, Catalina hired a number of designers, most notably Bettina Jaynes.

Elizabeth Stewart was the daughter of Catalina’s founder. In 1955 she launched Elizabeth Stewart Swimwear in Los Angeles with her husband and two brothers. Hollywood costumer and couturier Howard Greer designed for Caltex featuring his ‘molded torso’ line.

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2 Responses

  1. Kiri

    All those swimsuits are so lovely. I’m either going to have to scrape up enough money to buy one, or find a vintage pattern and make one.

  2. stephany

    i have a blue vintage swim ware almost like this one, i found it in the vintage store here in riverside and i didn’t know i wasn’t suppose to mess with it so i tailored it to fit my body lucky i didn’t cut anything i just needed a couple of inches off but it’s in really good conditions and i love to wear it just to show it off =D