Claudine Davies cut her sartorial teeth as a menswear fashion buyer at Harvey Nichols before setting up her own swimwear boutique, Biondi Couture, which stocks a sharp edit of the best of the season’s beachwear. She tells Corner why feeling fabulous is all about fit…
We know it’s still only February, but our thoughts turned long ago to summers on the beach. Can you tell us about the SS15 collections stocked at Biondi Boutique?
Biondi stocks an amazing selection of designer swimwear, beachwear and accessories, providing everything for the perfect holiday wardrobe. Of course, we now have our own Biondi collection too which is also stocked by other important stores around the world.
The new SS15 collection combines opulently bespoke prints with luxurious fabrics to create a feeling of sumptuous bohemia irresistible to the international globe trotter. There is also a variety of textures and fabrics used to flatter every body shape; from slinky halter neck bikinis to chic cover-ups and jumpsuits, the new collection offers beautiful pieces that are designed to take you from poolside to party in effortless style. I am committed to ensuring my clients look and feel great in their swimwear, and travel extensively to find new and exciting products so you will always find exclusive ‘one-of-a-kind’ items. It is Biondi’s aim to source styles that inspire confidence.
It seems that the vibrant colours found everywhere from the Med to the Far East dominate… how did you go about making your selection, and what trends can you see emerging in swimwear for 2015?
I travel frequently and I am always inspired by my trips. The great thing about swimwear is you can be really adventurous with colour. The SS15 Biondi collection is inspired by the shimmering tones of the Balearics and the rich vibrancy of the East.
Swimwear always follows ready-to-wear and for SS15 there are strong influences from the fashion world. Blue is always a dominant colour in swimwear but is equally strong in fashion for 2015. This season, we love our opal blue and white print as it’s perfect for reminding us of the cool waters from our holidays.
You started out as a buyer for Harvey Nichols. What then made you decide to open the Biondi Showroom, and branch out on your own?
I was actually in menswear for most of my career at Harvey Nichols. My boss at Harvey Nichols once told me a good buyer should be able to buy any category including baked beans! I think she was the one who inspired me to apply my skills to my true passion: swimwear.
My mother is Brazilian and I spent many holidays admiring the swimwear worn on the beaches of South America. Their swimwear was so much more exciting than what we had in the UK, and I decided to make it my mission to make British women just as stylish on the beach by importing all the great brands I had found.
How did that transition feel?
I was naturally very excited to be doing something I had dreamed of doing for so long and that enthusiasm can keep you going even on the tough days. The hardest thing for me was the solitude and not being able to bounce ideas off anyone else. However, the successes always made up for the bad days though and I never regret starting my own business.
How would you sum up Biondi’s aesthetic and driving principles?
Even though the Biondi collection is relatively new, the brand Biondi has been around since 2005. Everything we stand for in the boutique is also reflected in our collection. All we want is our customers to look and feel great in their beachwear and we have made sure the fit, quality and design of the Biondi collection does its utmost to fulfil our mission!
Sum up Biondi in 3 words…
Luxury, expert and contemporary.
What advice would you give to women sheepishly trying on their first bikinis and bathing suits of the year?
- Choose a shop like Biondi with knowledgeable and helpful staff. Don’t be scared to ask for advice and try on as many shapes as possible.
- Always select fit over fashion. You will not look good if the suit does not fit properly.
- Don’t be afraid to invest in a well-made bikini as they will often fit you better.
- Resist covering up your worst bits in fabric – this will accentuate them and make them look bigger.
- For those who really struggle with their shape, choose a shop that sells separates or choose a bespoke bikini as made-to-measure will fit your body exactly.
- Most importantly, make sure you’ve found a swimsuit or bikini that you feel happy in. After that initial step, you should pamper yourself by getting a fake tan, waxing or shaving, and ensuring you have a nice manicure and pedicure. If you feel confident, you will look great!
You also run a bespoke service – can you tell us how that works?
I am very proud of our bespoke swimwear service. It is for women looking for the ultimate outfit for the pool or beach or they may have specific requirements after surgery. Following an initial design consultation about styles, fabrics, trends, body shape, and fittings, clients receive their couture bikini within six weeks. The suits are made in our atelier in Chelsea by our expert in-house design team. One of our VIP clients, a model, orders an elegant swim dress every season. It is a great example of a bespoke piece; it flatters and fits her perfectly, she would not find it elsewhere and we always wish we had put it in the collection.
If you did not run a beachwear label, what do you think you would be doing?
I have never considered doing anything else! Beachwear is my passion and has become my life over the last 14 years; I would always do something in this field…
Where will you be escaping this year?
I am going skiing to Austria in March and then I am planning a trip to Puglia, Italy with friends and family. I think my whole wardrobe is going to be Biondi. I am going to take as much as I can. My mantra is normally to travel light but I am too excited with all the new pieces.
Do you feel like you always have the best outfits on the beach?
Yes, I really do! I am so lucky to have all the lovely things I do but I think I would be doing something very wrong if I didn’t look the best I could on the beach. After all, this is what we are trying to achieve for all our customers!
What are your beach holiday essentials?
Well-fitting bikinis, a lightweight but large beach bag, a hat, SPF 30, my kindle and my favourite lip balm.