However much fashion aficionados may love the texture and colors and architecture of clothing, there is a whole other dimension to a swimwear fashion show. The fashion is, quite literally, stripped down to its bare essentials, and the models, free from the runway norm of being walking clothes hangers, can show themselves to be walking works of art. The combination is compelling, and enthusiasm for it spreads far beyond the fashionistas. The largest, most powerful and popular fashion publication of the year is the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue, attesting to the power of the combined art forms.
Which, of course, is why swimwear day at Fashion Week Las Vegas was so well received.
On Tuesday two designers, from very different places in the industry, showed their swimwear collections. The Billionaire Collection, part of an international brand, showed both swimwear and resort wear. As is their style, the clothing was richly made, uncompromising in its appeal to the upper echelon of the market. But the night belonged to a local Las Vegas designer, one of the “emerging designers” that is the raison d'etre of the Fashion Week Las Vegas.
Submissive Desires, brainchild of designer Sharnel Guy, is a new company just beginning to make its presence felt in the industry. Sharnel attended the prestigious Las Vegas Academy of the Arts, initially based on her interest in drawing and painting. But in short order she started to specialize in drawing dresses, and changed her focus from being purely fine art to fashion, mixing art with practicality.
Sharnel recalls an epiphany: “One day I found myself shopping for swimwear and felt they were all boring. That rang a bell for me to want to design swimwear that is creative different and outside the box.” Step one.
Step two came because she lived in Las Vegas, a desert city far from the beaches, where “swimwear” has a different function. Again, Sharnel explains: “During pool season, I noticed a lot of women barely ever got in the pool . . . and if they did ..it was only from the waist down.” And on that insight her mission was set: to “specialize in eye striking swimwear and apparel but also keeping up with public demands for new futuristic designs.” Her suits could be pool-ready, if not exactly intended for braving the Pacific Ocean surf, while being exotic show pieces.
And that, to the cheers of the Fashion Week crowd, is what she showed.