Fredonia Shakespeare Club considers creativity in swimsuit design

The Fredonia Shakespeare Club met recently for its 12th regular meeting of the 2013-2014 year, hosted by President Mrs. Robert Woodbury at her home. She also presided at the meeting. Following the theme for the year “Creativity & the Spark of Genius,” Ms. Priscilla Bernatz presented her paper entitled “Creativity in Fashion – Swimwear Design 1910 to 1970” which she summarized as follows:

Creativity in fashion is not an isolated phenomenon. It does not develop in a vacuum. It is influenced by outside factors and past designs. Using a historical timeline and illustrations, creativity and four components of the creative process -novelty, effectiveness, elegance and surprise – were discussed.

Two external factors had significant influence on swimwear design: material science and shifts in social and moral views. In the ’20s and ’30s, using natural fabrics such as wool and cotton, designers incorporated creative stitching, smocking and boning into swimwear designs to give the wearer support, form and shape. From wool to lastex to spandex and even to tyvek, designers have used creative ideas to transform fabrics into exciting swimwear designs.

The shift from disapproval to approval of swimwear was certainly a result of creative advertising campaigns. Whether it was the first one-piece bathing garment produced by Jantzen in the 1920s or the risque “Scandal Suit” produced by Cole in the late 1960s, swimwear designers relied on effective advertising campaigns to reshape moral standards. This acceptance of swimwear as fashion has led to the development of related fashion industries.

Ms. Bernatz’s definition of creativity as it applies to swimwear reads: Creativity is any act (for example advertising campaigns), idea (such as Jantzen’s one-piece knit swimsuit) or product (like spandex) that changes swimwear design or that transforms swimwear design into a new fashion category.

After the presentation, Mrs. Robert Woodbury called the group to Tea. Mrs. Woodbury was assisted at the Tea table by Ms. Florence McClelland. At the next meeting of the Club, to be hosted by Club Secretary, Dr. Susan Besemer at her home, Club President, Mrs. Robert Woodbury will present her paper on Stephen Hawking.