Dilara Findikoglu is the Turkish designer proposing a beautiful nightmare crystallised in clothing form. With drama, dark sensuality and a Victorian-goth flair imbued into her work, she has the fashion industry spellbound – us included – and for 2022 her eponymous label’s sophomore swimwear collection is a portrait of an effeminate saint.
It comes after last summer’s inaugural swimwear edit with strived to cement the idyllic characteristics of an imaginary island called Saint Dilara Beach Club. Though it was initially about defining a place where women can escape into comfort and eternal bliss, the updated rendition is a fictional oasis where women’s bodies are celebrated and free from burdens. As Findikoglu explains: “I ultimately want to celebrate women being in tune with their body, mind and soul.” The resurrected narrative, albeit ultimately explored from differentiating perspectives, emerges inherently intertwined with Findikoglu’s archive and her obsession with undergarments.
Having noticed a lack of bathers with the same luxury zhush of ready-to-wear, Dilara wanted her swimwear to feel just as special, maintaining the same quality of craftsmanship and design audacity. “Naturally, I saw swimwear as an opportunity to design lingerie-style pieces that can be worn in public,” she said.
This summer, Saint Dilara Beach Club presents a triad of sculpturally profound pieces that evoke Findikoglu’s couture sensibility. She notes that a bikini made of seashells, representing the female deity via an experimental couture effigy, is one of the most intricate garments she has ever made by hand herself. Coupled with three brand new styles, five of last season’s bestsellers have been regenerated. Pieces come inspired by the team’s favourite female heroines: Joan of Arc takes on crimson corsetry, Marie Antoinette is pretty in pink and Mata Hari makes metallic ruching exotic.
In the collection’s campaign, former 10 cover girl Lily McMenamy morphs into a mix between a punk succubus and a tranquil Mother Earth while we shlep along behind her on her journey to sainthood. As she ventures toward rebirth we see enchanting bikinis and contouring one-pieces that will have you hexxed. She continues, a virtuous swan held overhead with chains and pearls dangling all over, as she metamorphoses eventually coming clad in fizzed-up diamante swim caps paired with lacy bustiers and itty-bitty bottoms. McMenamy then strikes a grotesque pose with a pale yellow python coiled around her neck and a strappy nude bikini covering her curves like an “I’m a Slave 4 U” dupe that’s anything but tawdry. In fact, the campaign is quirky, gothic, and elegant at once. “Lily embodies what the Dilara woman is about,” says Findikoglu. “She’s otherworldly, she’s magical, she’s powerful and sensual; she’s the saint and the sinner.”
Photography by Casper Serjensen. The new Dilara Findikoglu swimwear collection is available to shop here.