If you‘re a man and you see one of your favorite actresses in a bikini, like Halle Berry in James Bond or Pamela Anderson in Baywatch, you probably think of something completely different from wondering what the swimsuit has to do with the story.
And if you‘re a woman, you probably have a totally different dilemma when seeing a million dollar babe with a digitally enhanced body in a tiny bikini.
Despite how you experience this tiny piece of textile, it sometimes has a huge impact on the character or the situation the body beauty is just facing. Let‘s start with the swimsuit of the gloriously inglorious Lindsay Lohan or…
1. The Glory of Lindsay Lohan in The Canyons (2013)
The disturbing film by movie director Paul Schrader is a visual stream of the subconscious desire for control and freedom among some late 20- and early 30-something Hollywood producers and actors wannabes - bored, sexually obsessed and struggling. So far my one sentence resume.
However, even if you haven‘t watched the movie, you probably remember the shiny red swimsuit that Lindsay wears while lying on the sun lounger on some of the promo pictures.
In fact, the bathing suit is far more symbolic than on first sight, because it’s from the controversial fashion brand American Apparel, which is famous for their sexually explicit ad campaigns.
The label image fits not only the checkered image that Lindsay earned during her long episode of scandals, but also her role in the movie as Tara.
Actually, Tara’s bright red bikini contrasts not only with the white lounge chair and the blue swimming pool, but foremost with the black shirt, pants and sunglasses of her jealous boyfriend, Christian (James Deen), who aggressively accuses her of cheating.
And while Christian‘s outfit emphasizes his devilish side, Tara‘s red is the color of aggression making bulls enraged enough to charge, and symbolizes sexual attraction.
Nevertheless, the color-coding in this scene is not the only meaningful cinematic detail: Also the shape of the swimsuit is actually explicitly sexual due to the deep cut V-neckline on the front, which blatantly puts the focus on her sexual parts.
In fact, Tara is the sexual attractor that drives her fiancé Christian and her secret lover, Ryan, crazy, which seems clearly symbolized here with the red piece of textile.
Furthermore, the V shape of her swimsuit then might stand for her final victory, because she is stronger than her jealous, psychotic boyfriend and can escape from his chains.
Tara looks weak, but she is actually able to leave Christian and his sexual obsession, his power as a film producer and the money that the unsuccessful actress, Tara, was heavily dependent on.
A final twist is the model name of the American Apparel swimsuit: Gloria-V. Why?
Because Lindsay‘s role name ‘Tara‘ derives from a goddess in Asian mythologies, and “Gloria“ derives from the term “Aura“ or “Aureola“.
And a “glory” refers to the radiance of a luminous cloud in Christian paintings of sacred people, such as saints and virgins, where the Aureola surrounds the head. This little trivia further supports the idea of Tara as the glorious and sexual woman - innocent and seductive at the same time - who stirs the emotions of the two rivals, Christian and Ryan.
While we leave for now Lindsay Lohan‘s gloriole, let‘s dive deep into the animalistic world of Ashley Benson, Rachel Korine and Vanessa Hudgens or…
2. How Candy, Brit and Cotty Face the Eye of the Tiger in ”Spring Breakers” (2012)
Harmony Korine‘s wild and colorful coming of age movie is disturbing and full of pop-cultural comments. In fact, costume designer Heidi Bivens put a lot of effort into the right clothes to create the authentic style of the four college girls on their once in a lifetime trip and not only literally – their personal Spring Break.
Even if you didn‘t watch the movie, you‘ve probably seen the famous sunset scene on YouTube, where Alien (James Franco) plays Britney Spears’ song “Everytime” on a piano while the three girls are dancing around him.
In fact, this is the scene, where Candy (Vanessa Hudgens), Brit (Ashley Benson) and Cotty (Rachel Korine) wear the remarkable so-called “monokini” with the oversized Tiger face on the front. The tiger face with its haunting eyes fits perfectly the macabre performance of the girls’ with their machine-guns as we see scenes of their brutal assaults and robberies.
Therefore, the one-piece animal bikini perfectly illustrates their brutal eagerness to create fear, to kill and survive.
The curious detail that makes this swimsuit so meaningful is that the tiger is not only a wild animal and deadly hunter, but also a rare and nearly extinct species.
The sad fact is that the formerly wild tiger is now a captive in zoos and circuses for the enjoyment of the ordinary paying customers.
Therefore, the tiger is a great metaphor of the rebellious and desperate youth that Candy, Brit and Cotty represent, and their wild trip is nothing less than their final attempt to live a wild and free life outside of a zoo or circus AKA college and Babbittry.
Another meaningful twist is that the monokini is from swimwear label Lovesick.
And actually, Lovesick is another great metaphor for the girls, who are desperately seeking love and tribute, while at the same time feeling sick with their former boring life.
A far less controversial movie is The Other Woman (2014), where Cameron Diaz also wears a wild animal bikini, but for a totally different reason:
3. Cameron Diaz’ is the Prey That Hunts Back in The Other Woman
I have to admit, that you can see Carly‘s (Cameron Diaz) remarkable silver black striped zebra bikini only clearly on some secretly taken set pictures, and just very shortly in one scene of the movie.
Nevertheless, the bikini seems significant, and here is why:
The so-called Zebra Palm bandeau bikini is from luxury fashion brand Marie France van Damme, and Carly wears it while she is in the Bahamas with her allied friends.
In fact, Carly‘s Zebra Palm bikini can be spotted when she hides herself, equipped with big field glasses, behind some palms and bushes at the Hotel swimming pool to spy on the fraud – and now hunted prey – Mark.
Actually, the entire scene and the wild animal bikini model are a great metaphor for the relationship between the two. Why?
Because in the beginning of their relationship, she was just the mistress AKA “prey” or wild and exotic zebra that Mark, the womanizer AKA “hunter”, used for his fun and ego.
But at the hotel pool, when her zebra bikini is covered with a tunic dress, it is a symbol that the situation has totally changed; in fact, she is not the victim anymore, but the hunter, who is going to hunt down her new prey Mark..
Another similarly hidden bikini appears in “The Bling Ring“, when Emma Watson shows us her wild - not only bikini - side in the movie that‘s based on a real story, or:
4. Why Emma Watson‘s White Bikini Top is Actually Really Wild and Sexy in The Bling Ring
Sofia Coppola‘s drama seems shallow but is actually full of allusions to the real LA world, especially when talking about copying the original style of the Hollywood celebs the Bling Ring robbed.
But, the pop-culture references go even further when you take a closer look at a few fashion items, like Nicki‘s (Emma Watson) white bra for instance. What?
Yes, the bikini top can be spotted shortly when she sits on the boardwalk of the Venice Beach street market selling some of the stolen luxury bags, sunglasses and shoes.
This is the scene where Nicki (Emma Watson) wears this white bra that is so meaningful. In fact, it‘s the ‘Daisy‘ denim bra from the rebellious LA fashion label Wildfox Couture.
While the image of the brand that‘s famous for daring styles and ad campaigns fits the wild side that Nicki shows in this scene, the fashion label itself seems symbolic too.
Why? Because it references a fox, a wild animal that hunts at night. The analogy fits quite well to the Bling Ring Gang, who also stray like wild and hungry animals through the houses of the stars hunting for prey.
However, an even more interesting detail is again, the name, because this particular bra model is called 'Sinatra Cowgirl‘.
In fact, the model name is a reference to the legendary actress and singer Nancy Sinatra, who became popular with hits like ‘These Boots are made for Walking‘, ‘Something Stupid‘ and the revolver drama ‘Bang Bang‘ in the 1960s.
These assumed iconic pop culture allusions are actually a great analogy to Nicki‘s character and to the foolish things she is doing with her Bling Ring gang.
The ‘Cowgirl‘ association in particular seems like a great metaphor for Nicki‘s wild West-like trip through the houses of the Hollywood celebrities.
Another great – and now more prominently featured – costume design example how a bikini supports a movie character can be spotted in David O’Russel’s drama American Hustle (2013), or…
5. Why Amy Adams is Actually the Greasy Monkey in a Swimsuit in American Hustle
When you‘ve watched the movie or even just the trailer, you’ve probably also remeber the legendary pool party scene where Sydney and Irving meet for the first time.
And then, you probably also remember the fascinating beige crochet swimsuit that Amy Adams wore – or, more accurately, the tiny pieces of textile that shows more of the ex stripper’s naked body than it covers.
However, as matter of fact, my girlfriend wanted the same bikini for our next holiday and hence she forced me to start a long research process to find the same model and brand.
As lucky as I am, the so-called “monokini” looks vintage but it is, in fact, a new model from the swimwear designer label Lisa Maree in Australia.
While its late 1960s or early 1970s look fits the setting of the story of “American Hustle“, the model name ‘Grease Monkey‘ is again the key to a more meaningful association. In fact, a ‘Grease Monkey‘ is, according to the urban dictionary, a description of a motor mechanic, but also a slang word for someone who goes deep inside of things.
It‘s said that a ‘Grease Monkey‘ gets things done even when his fingers get dirty. And this is actually a great characterization of Sydney‘s role, because she is in fact the person who is doing virtually all of Irving’s dirty work.
She is in fact the person who seduces the undercover agent, Richie DiMaso, dazzles the mobster, and rescues Irving from FBI captivity.
Now, maybe all of these connections are just coincidences or made up by my imagination, but I think they are reasonable and comprehensible theories.