Diana Auria (left) and Margot Bowman
PHOTOGRAPHY: CARL WILSON
PRODUCTION: KYLIE GRIFFITHS
Make-up: Kamila Forini
Words: Suzie McCracken
Auria’s newest collection of bikinis, swimming costumes and beachwear is inspired by bingo. I couldn’t tell you where swimwear brands usually find their inspiration, because I’m not a bikini buff and I don’t think information like that really exists online, but I’m pretty certain it’s not normally a pastime you’d traditionally associate with blue rinse and osteoporosis. Mind you, it definitely works.
Founded by Diana Auria, the brand is a creative partnership with artist and designer Margot Bowman. The pair first met in 2007, when they both moved into a flat where “the bathroom was also the dining room”, before reuniting for Diana’s London College of Fashion graduate show in 2012 and working together ever since, being "highly commended" at the 2013 Sustainable City Awards for their use of pioneering recycled textiles.
Now, a year down the line, they’re excited to be showing their new collection at London Fashion Week, with the new bandeau shape a particular favourite. “I think that hardware makes boobs look really good,” said Margot when I visited the pair in their Dalston studio.
Margot: The whole concept of the brand is the modern, future, power-babe kind of thing. Future babes. It's weird, fun, sexy and cute. But also pop. The brand shows you can do sustainability, you can do modern design and you can do a positive feminist aesthetic in this one product.
It’s a really interesting space, with so many issues. You’re really working with women in a hardcore way. Nobody thinks they look good in swimwear. And it’s so cool when our friends try the stuff on – you see them stand a bit differently and say, “Yeah, it looks really good. I feel good.” That’s a really cool thing to be able to do.
Click through for more from Diana, Margot and Auria.
Diana: Our previous collections have all been themed, mostly really randomly. Our first collection was about Artemis, the goddess of the hunt, so all the illustrations were based around cut-off bear paws. This season the collection is based around the theme of bingo. We wanted to do something with games.
Margot: We were thinking about games, and we really wanted to work out how to do that in a way that was very British, funny and in a way no one has ever done before. I'm sure other people have done bingo before, but I haven’t seen any bingo swimwear.
Diana: Obviously we went to Mecca Bingo as our research day.
Margot: Most fun day ever.
Diana: You get a bottle of fake champagne – Perry, I think. They bring it along to you as a surprise in the middle of playing a game, and they serenade you. We were like, “Oh my god – we’ve won the jackpot! This is the best thing ever!” But it was disgusting.
We had to get the assistant to help us with the games because we didn’t understand what we were doing. It was so fast, too. You know when you see those old ladies with a million cards, like, "Boom, boom, boom"? I couldn’t even do one. It was so tense. But then we took the bingo card we'd dabbed on, scanned it in and then created one of the prints from it.
Margot: We did eyes for one of the prints – the bikini top with an eye and a number ball. We were looking so hard at the numbers during bingo that we wanted to include eyes. That feeling of staring and staring…
We wanted to have a more mix-matched approach to using the prints this season, because before they've been much more mono – one repeated print used across one big placement. We wanted to make it a bit more playful.
Margot: Then we also did this pound sign print, because we like the fact that it looks so English.
Diana: The American thing is to have dollars everywhere, and we thought, 'Pounds are way cooler than dollars.'
Margot: Again, it was about being irreverent and mismatching things, especially now that we’ve made some outerwear pieces. We’re doing stuff that’s for post-beach and going to the club. It’s got a very Ibiza vibe, like for when you’re just leaving the beach and you’re gonna go to Space or DC10. It’s practical, fun and it’s just got a lot of joy in it. I think there’s a lot of womenswear that’s come out this year that's empowered women to have more fun. Like sliders! Sliders are so practical. How happy is everyone that we’re not wearing stupid Roman gladiator sandals any more? You used to spend ages taking them on and off.
Diana: Like sliders, we keep our shapes quite minimal and contemporary. Because you get those swimsuits with millions of strappy bits, and I always think, 'That must be a bitch to put on.' We’re trying to keep it quite accessible. We’ve got maybe five core shapes. We’ll always have an underwired top for people who love underwire…
Margot: For people with boobs…
Diana: A bandeau for people who want straps, or triangles for people who want to tan better. A high-waist brief, a normal brief, a tie-side brief, even a short.
Margot: What’s cool about it is that it’s like having to be smart to act dumb. The product is really intelligent – it’s a forward-thinking and sustainable product, so it can be really irreverent because it’s already done all its conceptual bullshit, y'know? We don’t have to make everything all, "Oooo," because it’s already so much "Oooo-ier" than other stuff. It’s a brand that looks like it has an Instagram account. Like, it has Emojis. We were at a trade show with thousands of brands, walking around and thinking, 'No one here is as vibesy as us.'
But it’s not insanely young either – my mum really likes the stuff and she’s a pretty straight person. The beach is a nice place to be different. People want to wear colour.
Diana: You’re on holiday and you want to feel like someone new or totally different. You can on holiday – you’re in a different country.
Margot: It’s not work-wear; it’s play-wear.
More fashion on VICE: