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Absolut Beach Internet swimwear
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The Independent Online
A holiday booked in some gorgeous sunny isle? No time to shop for the latest swimwear ensemble? No problem, says the Australian company Absolut Beach, which promises to "solve your swimsuit dilemma with a click of the mouse at any time of day, any day of the year", via its Internet site at http://www.absolutbeach.com.

After browsing through their on-line menu- a wide selection of garments in sizes from 8 to a generous size 16 with a D cup - I could, the site promised, also place an order immediately in their On-line Shop, popping items into my virtual shopping basket as I moved through.

But the swimwear itself was more high street than high fashion, although Absolut Beach claims that it "delivers the kind of swimwear you didn't believe existed - fashionable suits with excellent fit and comfort, no riding up or gaping, from our Nylon Lycra range with 50+ UV protection". Such a shame they couldn't also provide me with a virtual body like those modelling such unbelievable garments, but there you go.

The language barrier is a killer. Patonga - "a fashionable and versatile maillot" - is an ordinary one-piece swimsuit (how versatile can a one- piece swimsuit be?); and Palm, retailing at $17, was described as "a pant, providing fashion, fun and fabulous fit". Classic, yet amusing, hyperbole.

You could mix and match sizes, choosing a size 14 bikini top and a size 10 matching wrap skirt, but the colour scheme was all shocking citrus, and I couldn't see anything in a sleek, flattering black. There might have been, but I got bored waiting for the pictures to download.

Absolut offers a "discreet" changing room in which a virtual mannequin would morph into my vital statistics and sashay down the catwalk in my chosen outfit. Nice idea, but it didn't seem to work: my computer crashed three times while I was trying, and eventually I gave up.

My temper was tested when I had chosen a bikini, made sense of the confusing ordering details, selected the correct currency and then got to the small print, which pointed out that Absolut Beach could not take my credit card details on-line at this time due to security requirements from the company's bank. By then, I absolutely needed a holiday.

Sophia Chauchard-Stuart

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