You probably think that Hollywood stars—with their toned figures—would dazzle audiences in skimpy swimsuits.
But Hollywood’s most memorable caught-on-film bathing-suit moments are more suggestive than revealing, according to model-turned-stylist Lawrence Zarian.
“What’s so sexy about a swimsuit is the imagination,” says Zarian, the host of TV Guide Network’s “The Fashion Team.” “When it comes to fashion, we’re too often giving the goods away, but my mind can create something so much better than we’re looking at.”
The best on-screen suits come from a generation ago, avoiding today’s emphasis on shocking amounts of skin.
“You see plain girls with enhanced breasts showing off,” Zarian says. “Sex sells but it comes and goes. Sensuality lasts a lifetime.”
Zarian’s top Hollywood swimsuit looks:
• Deborah Kerr in “From Here to Eternity” (1953)
Kerr’s black halter-neck swimsuit with boy-short bottoms was feminine without being risque, says Zarian. “That kiss scene is heralded as one of the most romantic scenes on film ever. It was a modest one-piece, but the scene just oozed sexuality.”
• Farrah Fawcett’s pinup poster (1976)
Zarian thinks her red one-piece, tank-style bathing suit was the inspiration for the “Baywatch” suits that came 20 years later. The front wasn’t all that low cut and the leg openings certainly weren’t high cut, but you were still left with the feeling you saw something you shouldn’t have.
“It was the first time we saw nipples, yet everything was covered,” he notes. “It looked like it all happened naturally. It was all-American, sexy and fun—like something we’d never seen before.”
• Jacqueline Bisset in “The Deep” (1977)
Bisset’s white T-shirt and a snorkeler’s mask doesn’t constitute a bathing suit but it counted as “swimwear.” Having her mostly covered contributed to the mystique, Zarian says.
He adds: “When you put a sexy figure in water, it adds to the senses.”
• Bo Derek in “10” (1979)
Derek’s actual swimsuit isn’t all that revealing: It’s a one-piece tank-style suit, although the straps are pretty thin. The sexy part is the flesh color and that she’s wet, according to Zarian.
“She was the fantasy of everyone—men and women. ... Yes, the bathing suit was a little too tight, but that was the point of the movie, the ‘Perfect 10.’ I loved the late ‘70s!”
• Halle Berry in “Die Another Day” (2002)
Berry donned a similar—albeit orange—bikini to Ursula Andress in the original James Bond film “Dr. No” in 1962, complete with a belt to hold her knife, but Zarian says that Berry’s dark skin made a stronger statement.
“When Ursula Andress did it, she was the buxom blonde. It was a sign of the times when Halle Berry did it.”