The designer speaks to AnOther about her newly launched – and highly fantastical – collection of swimwear
“I’m not really sure if anyone has made fully corseted swimwear before,” says Dilara Findikoglu. The London-based designer is calling from Istanbul where she has been based for the past few months. Now, she is preparing to launch her first line of swimwear and has been in and out of the factory all day getting everything finished up with her team. “Our designs were a bit complicated and our factories were quite stumped by them at first,” she continues. “As a maximalist designer, who works with really intricate patterns, designing swimwear has been an entirely new challenge for me.”
The new collection certainly bears all the hallmarks of the Dilara Findikoglu brand: gothic boning in bustier-style one-pieces that cinch in the waist and hoik up the chest; bonnets tied around the neck with a ribbon; and stockings held up by a network of crisscrossing strings that nod to the 18th-century erotic novella. (Fittingly, the campaign was shot by The Favourite director Yorgos Lanthimos on a windswept beach in Kent, which Findikoglu explains she had to watch over remotely on Zoom from Turkey). Of course, the collection also appeals to Findikoglu’s punk sensibilities, with fishnet detailing in hues of deep scarlet and one-shoulder swimsuits which have been made in a shade of azure blue that invokes the 1980s. She also nods to another of her inspirations, belly dancing, with a chains spelling out the designer’s name in block capitals attached to be bikini bottoms – a detail that can also be seen in her last runway presentation, which took place just before the first UK lockdown in February 2020.
The designer first conceived of the idea of a swimwear line after what she describes as the ’weight’ of the past year and a half of global lockdowns. “I wanted to create something lighter, to make people feel lighter,” she says. “Everyone was waiting for the summer and so was I, of course. I was also thinking about that feeling of swimming; of entering the water and becoming purified and all the bad energy being cleansed away.” Such were the designer’s escapist fantasies that as part of the launch, she has even dreamed up a silvery digital vista, named Saint Dilara Beach Club, which is described on her Instagram account as a place where ’the days are so long that you can live in an endless summer breeze and where the nights are only for joyful dreams.’ “If I am going to send my women in my swimwear anywhere, it’s going to be somewhere as amazing as that,” she says.
The beach club experience also includes an NFT auction where digital artworks can be purchased as souvenirs to remember your adventure, even after summer has been and gone. “This project has been a new way of making my ideas come to life,” she says. “Just as we all had our routines broken, my creative routine was also broken; so it has allowed me to experiment and discover new ways to express myself.” With plans to return to the runway once she is able, and to work on an inclusive range of lingerie, the Dilara Findikoglu fantasy continues.