Sunday 25 August 2019

Natural woman

 

Bikini top, €85; bikini briefs, €50, both Chantelle
Bikini top, €85; bikini briefs, €50, both Chantelle
Bikini top, €66; bikini briefs, €55, both Seafolly; large hoop earrings, €110, Inner Island; small hoop earrings, €65, Loulerie
Bikini top, €95; bikini briefs, €45, both Chantelle; large hoop earrings, €110, Inner Island; small hoop earrings, €65, Loulerie
Bikini top, €58; bikini brief, €53, both Calvin Klein; large hoop earrings, €110, Inner Island; small hoop earrings, €65, Loulerie

I love fashion insights. For instance, in the midst of chatting to Arnotts' Swim and Lingerie Buyer, Rachelle Hanley, she casually mentions that the Arnotts' customer is eminently practical in her choice of lingerie - but when it comes to her holiday wardrobe, she is the furthest thing from basic.

"The bolder the colour, the brighter the print, the more details there are, the more she goes for it," says Rachelle. "Our customer loves to make a statement when she goes on holiday."

Which proves my long-held belief that the typical Arnotts customer is a woman who works hard and plays hard, and her wardrobe has to be a hard-working team player that supports her.

"Another interesting thing is that she loves snakeskin. She always has," says Rachelle as she points me in the direction of excellent French lingerie-and-swim label Chantelle, citing it as fabulously strong this season for design, cut, fit - and high-fashion snake print.

Bikini top, €66; bikini briefs, €55, both Seafolly; large hoop earrings, €110, Inner Island; small hoop earrings, €65, Loulerie
Bikini top, €66; bikini briefs, €55, both Seafolly; large hoop earrings, €110, Inner Island; small hoop earrings, €65, Loulerie

"In general, French brands tend to be very clean; the aesthetic is very colour-block, very pared-back. Chantelle, though French, is a bit more edgy. Lejaby is sophisticated, with a strong design aesthetic," explains Rachelle of these lingerie brands that are now doing swimwear.

"Our average customer is a 34E, and I am very conscious of her. I will always buy more styles to cater to that customer. I do buy triangle bras for A-cups and B-cups, but I am really about ensuring we always have something for the fuller figure."

And Panache and Fantasie, bigger-cup-size specialists, have the kind of swimwear that makes a woman proud of her womanly body.

"Our customer loves strong reds, botanicals, floral prints. She loves making a style statement on the beach. She likes her cover-ups to look more like outerwear so that she doesn't need to go back to her room to change out of her swimwear to go out again," Rachelle says.

West Seventy Nine, which is exclusive to Arnotts and a new sustainable brand, is all about the play lifestyle. "Nicky Clayton is a charismatic woman, and so is her collection," Rachelle says. "It is a bit of a fashionistas' brand. It's for that customer who is looking to make a statement on the beach. It is that little bit sexier than we have had before. And it goes up to an F-cup and G-cup."

American brands do things differently again. Michael Kors keeps it classy, but sexy, in doing a Sharon Stone-in-the-1990s vibe, while Calvin Klein does it with more darkness and danger. Tommy Hilfiger rejects the logo for his trademark colours, and creates figure-fabulousness.

Yum.

Photography by Alex Hutchinson

Styling by Courtney Smith

Fashion edited by Constance Harris

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