Kenzo, Ashley Williams, Acne, Ashley Williams and Kenzo, Spring/Summer 2014, All Over Press.

Kenzo, Ashley Williams, Acne, Ashley Williams and Kenzo, Spring/Summer 2014, All Over Press.


With fishermen, blustery coastlines and underwater imagery all providing inspiration to designers and style icons, we explore the latest incarnations of a true fashion classic.

Tropical waves, dramatic cliffs, calm blue oceans... the coast is a perennial fashion presence, and never ceases to inspire. Humberto Leon and Carol Lim, the duo behind Kenzo, dreamed up their S/S 2014 collection on the beaches of California, by looking at surfer style and underwater life. Acne Studios took their nautical collection in an oversized direction. Simone Rocha looked to Ireland’s blustery beaches when creating her textured separates.

Coco Chanel was the beach chic original. Though the pattern was first introduced into French seamen’s uniforms in 1858, it was brought into fashion by Chanel as part of her 1917 nautical collection. Since then, coastal life has continued to inspire generations of designers, celebrities and stylists, giving us icons such as Bond girl Honey Rider in that white bikini. There were Jean Paul Gaultier’s sexy, muscular sailors, the algae and coral motifs that marked Karl Lagerfeld’s S/S 2012 show and, now, hot young London talent Ashley Williams’ cute sweaters and swimming cossies for S/S 2014. 

And so, every season, whatever the broader moods or trends, designers stare out over the big blue. And, crucially, they all interpret what they see in very different ways. As Alexander Fury, fashion editor of The Independent, says: “For Coco Chanel, the sea symbolised sensuality, minimalism and freedom from the shackles of Edwardian formality. Prada and Versace would look at the seaside in two entirely different ways – Donatella’s would probably be topless.” 

The upshot? Whether you prefer vintage-y Breton stripes, sexy cut-out swimwear, classic navy tailoring or rugged fisherman pieces, you can always let the sea inspire your look.

shop the story
Back to feed
Back to top