June 17 2011
Lucia van der Post
Boats, of course, come in many guises. There are those that require serious working gear for hauling up sails, tying knots and braving the wind and spray. For this sort of sailing you need to head off to the specialist providers. But then there are the boats where somebody else does most of the work, where the seas are blue and the sun shines and there’s lots of lovely lounging about to be done.
For those who are spending time aboard this sort of boat, Biondi Couture Boutique in London’s Chelsea is the perfect one-stop shop. Its owner, Claudine Davies, has a Brazilian mother and so was inspired to bring to us sun-deprived Brits the sort of vibrant beachside kit that seems to be more commonplace on Ipanema beach.
There’s a terrific selection of kaftans and cover-ups – most particularly, I loved Anya Hindmarch’s long black kaftan with white trim for £250 – while the sarong, that essential garment for anybody with less than perfect hips and thighs, comes in all manner of colours and styles. I liked best the black and white Lotus sarong (£85), which can be tied into a dress; it partners chicly up with a matching black and white swimsuit (£160, both by OndadeMar).
There’s a lovely Debbie Katz maxi dress (first picture, £195) in flattering white and blue – perfect for sashaying ashore onto a beach or into a restaurant. Other accessories to go for include the Belshie wrap (£180), which comes in soft cotton with a delicate gold print and pom-pom trim and can be used as a scarf on the plane, as a sarong on the beach and as a wrap at night. The Musa sandals (from £130) are perfect for excursions ashore (third picture, Musa Crystal sandals, £295), while the Natmad straw hat (£49) is the smartest packable sun hat I’ve yet come across.
But probably its chief claim to fame is its great selection of swimwear: there are one-pieces by Karla Colletto, famed for their masterful hidden support (second picture, Hydrangea swimsuit, £245), and bikinis by Vix (tops and bottoms sold separately) – the sort you see on the Hello! set.
It also offers a bespoke service. They’ll copy vintage swimsuits you’ve seen and fallen in love with or remake a beloved model that is past its best. Prices start at £350. It has an in-house tailor so everything can be made to fit perfectly.
It also has its own line of smart men’s swimwear in discreet patterns as well as plain red, yellow and navy (£89-£95).
If you can’t get to the shop you can buy online, and e-mail Davies for advice.