Image via Listal
UPDATE (6/6/2013) — When this was originally posted in 2011, Esther was 89-years-young and working just as hard as ever. We’re saddened to hear of her recent passing, but we will continue to be inspired by her enduring spirit and style forever! — ModCloth
Esther Williams is a woman who really made a splash. We love her ravishingly retro swimsuit line, but we’re also inspired by her supremely successful life. Besides donning a swim cap as a pro athlete, this all-around icon was also a movie star, singer, dancer, businesswoman, and swimwear designer. And at age 89, she’s as enchanting as ever!
Dive in to read more about how ‘The Million Dollar Mermaid’ made waves in the realms of sport, film, and fashion…
Born in Los Angeles in 1921, Williams began swimming in her early teens. A natural athlete, she went on to win numerous national competitions, just missing an opportunity to compete in the 1940 Olympic Games, because of its cancellation due to World War II.
Her athletic prowess and star quality garnered enough attention that she soon found herself in front of the camera. Her first foray into the performing arts was swimming and starring in Billy Rose’s “Aquacade,” a glitzy theatrical production. Not long after, she landed a contract with MGM Studios and rode a wave of success.
Since her debut in 1942’s Andy Hardy’s Double Life, most of Williams’ films featured elaborate pool sets, musical numbers, and spectacular synchronized swimming routines. Have a look at the trailer for 1952’s Million Dollar Mermaid to see her in aquatic action.
In the late 1940s, Williams endorsed swimwear for Cole of California in a series of print ads, one of the first examples of celebrity testimonials in advertising. Having worn extravagant suits made of sequins, flannel, and other impractical materials in her films, she embraced the idea of a more ‘suitable’ suit for waterborne women.
So, after bidding farewell to acting after 1963, Williams went on to establish her own line of stylish and sporty swimsuits — even a line of backyard swimming pools and pool equipment. Her suits flatter every body type, ensure practical performance, and maintain elegance and classic glamour. With lowcut legs and highcut halter tops, her suits are spectacular and timeless.
In an article for Women’s Wear Daily, she said, “I have something for [women who do not have perfect bodies], to which I’ve given a great deal of thought because I’m all for wonderful-looking women. I don’t undress women at the beach, I dress them so they have a good time. She can throw a volleyball and the whole front of her suit won’t fall down.”
We salute Esther Williams for her influential and swimmingly successful career! Do you own one of her sensational suits? If so, how does it make you feel, both in and out of water?