An Interview with Pistol Panties, Your New Swim Line Obsession

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If you’re anything like us, then you’ve been spending a considerable amount of time fussing over the summer-ready assortment of push-up halter-neck tops, high-waisted bottoms, and generally fabulous swimsuits up on our site right now. Finding the perfect bathingsuit is a challenging process — for a variety of reasons — but it becomes that much more difficult when there’s so much darn cute stuff to pick from.

Lately, we’ve been glued to the eye-popping prints from UK-based retro brand Pistol Panties (seriously, they’re super fab and make us yearn for the summer days of jumping into the ocean and, well, if we’re going to be completely honest, doggy-paddling). Designer Deborah Fleming has been at the helm for 10 years — she started the line because she couldn’t find well-cut, interesting, and quirky pieces on the market –  and we were lucky enough to catch up with her to chat. Join us.

ModCloth: You started the line 10 years ago, how has the brand evolved over the decade?deborah flemming
Deborah Fleming (that’s her to the right): I had the classic 1950s pinup in mind as my muse when I started the business from my kitchen; I cut the swimsuits myself and took them to London’s iconic department store Selfridges who bought the entire collection. Pistol Panties was initially geared towards a younger audience looking for retro style in swimwear.

You’re known for fun and quirky prints and patterns — is there a certain design that you’re typically drawn to?
It changes every day; polkadots are such a classic, our customers are always drawn to them hanging in the store. I relish playing with print and pairing contrasting patterns together like a paisley with a gingham. They bring the best out of each other and take on a new lease of life when combined.

Many of your pieces from the current line evoke images of the sexy and curvaceous 1950s pin-up, can you talk a little bit about the appeal of that era?
I started the company with the idea of creating the same silhouette as the ’50s pin-up girl but with functional stretch fabric such as Lycra and Elastane. The women of that time looked amazing but had to wear boning and corsets with non-stretch fabric but they didn’t mind — they still smiled and looked impeccable!

What are some of the most exciting swim trends you’re seeing take off for this current Summer ‘14 season?
I love the mix and match of prints which has become our signature, and high-waisted bikinis — I am so glad they are now being embraced as a silhouette. We had them in our range from the first season 10 years ago and initially buyers were rather hesitant about the shape, now they can’t get enough of them. I’m such an advocate for the ’50s silhouette and really believe the high-waisted style flatters so many different body shapes.

Let’s chat about the pieces you have up on ModCloth — where did you get the inspiration for your fun prints and silhouettes?
Usually from scouring markets and examining the prints from an array of sources: vintage upholstery, old magazines or even a dress from the ’80s and reworking the print. Sometimes the dress can be so hideous but there is a charm about the print which can be reworked and given a new lease of life.

We’re seeing a huge interest in high-waisted bottoms and underwire tops, can you talk about what makes that silhouette so flattering and wearable?
The high-waisted brief sucks in the stomach while the Lycra in the material subtly reshapes your bottom and thighs. The underwiring is supportive for the bust and the overall shape celebrates an always-alluring feminine hourglass silhouette.

As a swim expert, we’d love to know: What’s one surprising thing every beach- or pool-goer needs to have in their beach bag?
A spare bikini that you can mix and match with your existing one for double the combinations!

About Rebecca B

Rebecca is an L.A.-born (and raised!) New Yorker that now calls the Bay Area home. She lives on the Internet, still hearts ‘90s gangster rap, and does some of her best vintage shopping in her mom’s closet. Also: These are not her glasses.

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