Splash

Making waves with the new swimsuits

This summer's swimwear leaves little to the imagination. Bikinis are skimpy to a daring degree, with just about enough material to ensure modesty. Chanel has given women the ultimate in teeny-weeny bikinis: two strategically placed pound coins are about the size of it. Gucci has gone one step further and replaced the pound coins with tiny triangles and focused the erogenous zone on the bottom with what the Brazilians call a "dental floss" G-string. If you don't have pounds 225 to spare - a bum that good deserves all the money you can lavish on it - you might achieve the same effect with a shoelace, but a bikini wax is an absolute necessity. If you have the slightest dimple of cellulite, save yourself the money and humiliation and go for a more substantial one-piece with cut-away sides instead. Australian swimwear label, Zimmerman, is the master of the razor- cut one-piece in graphic shapes and bright colours.

If you want to draw attention to your erogenous zone but also hide any unsightly blubber, Splash Out, a designer swimwear company based in Sussex, will make a swimsuit to your specifications. Maureen Smyth set up the company after she left fashion college, and now specialises in unusual sizes, be it an extra-long body, extra-big cup sizes, or maternity swim and aerobic wear. Regular customers give Ms Smyth old favourites from past summers and she remakes them in a colour or fabric of their choice. Others send in designs from the pages of glossy magazines and order something similar in their size. Prices start at pounds 12 for a bikini, with the addition of a mere pounds 20 for your own special pattern. But shhh. Don't tell Gucci. (Photographs omitted) Tamsin Blanchard Splash Out (01903) 230861

Above and centre Orange cutaway swimsuit, pounds 69, by Zimmerman, from Harvey Nichols, Knightsbridge, London SW3 Right Chocolate brown and black G-string bikini, pounds 225, by Gucci, from Liberty, Regent Street, W1; Gucci, 33 Old Bond Street, W1

Chocolate and black bandeau top bikini, pounds 265, by Gucci, from Liberty, Regent Street, W1; Gucci, 33 Old Bond Street, W1

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