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June 27, 2011  | by: LaDawn Penigar-Mitchell

Jason Wu, Michael Kors, and Chanel Resort Collections

As the whirlwind of resort season nears an end, the biggest trend of the season was clearly beach and surf motifs. Resort wear used to consist mainly of classic bathing suits, sundresses and caftans, but this year’s designer collections featured elements inspired by active sports like surfing and scuba diving. Designers creatively reinterpreted resort wear and sought to design pieces that were ladylike and sophisticated but with a sporty flair. This latest approach for resort wear is a mix between upscale resort chic and the athletic spirit of beach culture.

Donna Karan's Scuba Bodydress

Showcased collections were swimming in surf wear. There were some fresh, cool takes on scuba gear and Chanel, Derek Lam, and more showed scuba-styled, wetsuit-inspired pieces, while Burberry Prorsum and others used neoprene accents and colors in their designs. Diane von Furstenberg drew inspiration from water sports as well and even featured models wearing biker shorts beneath shorts and skirts on the runway.  The collection of Donna Karan included party dresses with high-tech and sleek elements of active sports, and one standout scuba body dress was in bold red. Michal Kors was especially a pioneer of the sporty chic look by showing neon and color-blocked surf dresses and body skimming looks that were heavily influenced by scuba.

Derek Lam Resort Collection 2012

Herve Leger’s resort presentation included black, curve hugging tops and pant combos with brightly colored, striped detailing reminiscent of racecar driver body suits. Finally, Jason Wu, who was inspired by West Coast surf culture, dived into the sporty theme with a resort collection full of printed, silk surf shorts, chiffon scuba shirts and a floral dress worn with a scuba-inspired belt.

Everything from scuba to surfing to cycling is being referenced in looks that aim to be sporty yet chic. Bold neon colors in these sporty looks were a daring and adventurous gamble for designers but their efforts are already being championed as innovative and inspired. The original spirit of resort collections was leisurely luxuriousness, but zipped-up surf and scuba-inspired pieces are making this summer’s collections interesting and different.

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