Swimwear set to shake old values


PENNEYS chain store has cast its net wide. Its swimwear collection, shown in the Commons Restaurant in Dublin, is called "Mondo Mare", implying a global state of affairs, and a huge confidence that an £8 bikini can you anywhere.

Penneys even supplies a list of exotic places to visit but it's not all fantasy: this is a fetching product, little compilations of small pieces, adding up to whole beach wardrobes that have harmony right down to the last detail.

Yes, they would take you anywhere and the whole lot, the swimsuit, sarong, and sandals would only cost around £20. Once again the low leg is given as much scope as the high leg - some almost up to the armpits. But it is good to have all these alternatives.

The tiny, tight-fitting hot pants and tank top (£8) and an all-in-one beach suit are something a bit different. Or there is a short, black slip-on sundress, very practical as it hangs loosely.

Otherwise it's the wispy cotton sarong, with one to match each swimsuit, is another option. At £5, weighing half nothing, it is the perfect packable garment. It is also very, very versatile.

Underwiring is not part of the design, though there is a padded bikini (£10). The emphasis is more on a natural contour and great bursts of colour, if it isn't black. The collection is easy-going with some good-looking blue and whites printed with fish.

It is the extras that make the difference, making it look smart and new. There are flip-flops that come in a bag, straw bags (£6), canvas shoes (£5) and a multicoloured towelling wrap, a piece of extravagance at £35 and so big and bulky it would be quite impossible to pack, but very good on an Irish beach.

But where is it Penneys suggests? Halki or Allonissos - new cultures and new values are their promise. But here the old culture and the old values are very much in place - on Killiney beach it is still largely a one swimsuit and small towel culture. And values embrace the view that an ice-cold plunge is good for you.

But all that has got to change; and it will when January arrives and Penneys puts out its "Mondo Mare" range.