The good news, for those for whom donning a swimsuit signals something of an ordeal, is that this year more swimwear designers are seriously addressing the matter of cover-ups. These are a double boon – they not only protect skin from the sun, but also make it easier to loll about glamorously all day long.
Best for glamour is Eres, one of the grandest names in the swimsuit business that is noted for its understanding of corsetry and proper support. This year, for the first time, it has a range called Sunwear (first picture, £1,180), a collection of wonderful cover-ups, all capable of going from beach to boat and day to night. Valerie Delafosse, Eres’s artistic director, had in mind the sort of woman for whom the “sun never sets”. If she’s not in Goa, she’s in Ibiza and, if Ibiza begins to pall, she’s off to the Punta del Este or a far‑flung corner of Borneo. Whether she’s real or a figment of Delafosse’s imagination, it matters little – the clothes designed for her are lovely. Many are made from silk, have strong, simple lines and come in vibrant colours. There are nine different looks. I like best the long wrapover dress in two shades of pink, tied in the middle with a brilliant orange sash (£1,455), and the knee-length version in two shades of blue, with a big green sash (£1,225). But there are also floaty palazzo trousers in printed silk (£600) and a delicious strapless dress (£1,045), all co-ordinated to be mixed and matched with the latest swimsuit collection (from £190), but also exquisite enough to be worn on their own.
Roksanda Ilincic has been thinking along similar lines. She first did swimwear three years ago and there is now a growing demand for her distinctive designs. This year, she was hugely influenced by the artist Ellsworth Kelly – you can see it in the simple broad stripes and the colour palette of red, pink, orange, black and white. It makes for a ladylike look with a retro feel. But new to the collection is a range of silk cover-ups far removed from the usual floaty kaftans, with Ilincic applying the same block colours to some chic kimono styles (£620) and a selection of easy tunics (example shown in second picture, £525) to fling on over a bathing suit.
Meanwhile, new this year to Harrods is Brazilian designer Adriana Degreas, who has created a small collection of bikinis and one-piece swimsuits (from £105) with matching kaftans (example shown in third picture, £350) and long skirts (from £210). She caused something of a sensation at the shows in Rio and São Paulo, and now she’s come to Europe. The standout pieces are those with her animal, ikat and palm-leaf prints.