RIO DE JANEIRO — Just how complicated can the Brazilian bikini, among the skimpiest iterations of the simple spandex triangle and string design, possibly get?
Judging from the innovative, inventive and some downright strange beachwear options that hit the runways during Fashion Rio, the seaside metropolis' five-daylong fashion showcase, the sky's the limit. The spring-summer 2013-14 edition, featuring collections by about two dozen designers, wrapped up late Friday night.
At Blue Man, there were bikinis in see-through mesh, made legal in this country where skinny dipping is permitted only on a handful of beaches by strategically placed lozenges of fabric in Technicolor tropical prints. And in case hitting the beach in what essentially amounted to psychedelic censor bars doesn't appeal, the label had many a fuller-coverage offering on display, including a few all-enveloping, long-sleeve unitards whose sexiest features were zippers running all the way up the models' prominent spinal columns.
For those looking for more of a happy medium, there were a host of bikinis — with string or bandeau tops, low- or high-rise bottoms — in colonial watercolor and tropical hothouse prints.
Among the few shows held outside the special tents set up at a marina on the city's picture postcard Guanabara Bay, the Blue Man display took place at the former residence of the Portuguese ambassador, a sumptuous colonial mansion with sprawling tropical gardens.
A monkey in a nearby tree took in the show with a look of nonplussed nonchalance, as if to say he'd seen better. The homo sapien guests, however, were duly impressed, applauding and hooting with gusto.
Lenny Niemeyer opened her show with a long-sleeve one-piece that looked like the lovechild of a swimsuit and a sweatshirt. Made from a thick material that held its sculptural shape, the suit had puffy sleeves that appeared as if they'd been grafted from a schlumpy sweatshirt onto a racy leotard. Not necessarily the most weather-appropriate design for the tropics, but certainly an eye-grabber.
Other unmissable looks from Neimeyer, whose bold lines and use of subtle earthy hues have catapulted her to international fame, included turtleneck one-pieces kitted out with flippy little skirts and skimpy bikinis that looked like they'd been made out of scuba suits.