Gideon Oberson Bringing Flagship Flair to Castro Bathing Suits

Brand-name designer lends African touches to the retailer's new swimsuit line.

The first capsule collection designed by Gideon Oberson for the Castro fashion chain contains 15 different swimsuit styles. When the collection was shown Monday on the terrace of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Herzliya with the sea in the background, the natural light emphasized interesting elements that probably can't not be seen under the fluorescent lights in Castro’s stores, where they will be on sale at month’s end.

The prints on the different styles, which look like works of art, are clearly the handiwork of Gideon Oberson, who wanted to give them a natural, free appearance and also accommodate the collection’s African inspiration. His animal prints are elegant and fine, and the fabrics with brown, white and black colors resemble tattoos that Africans draw directly on their skin with chalk.

The processing of the fabric used here lends it a special brilliance and softness reminiscent of the high-end swimwear that Oberson has created for his own eponymous brand.

“This is, above all, engineering work,” Oberson says, as he turns the samples over with skillful hands. He did not try his designs out only on women whose sizes are 36 to 38, but also on those who are 44 or 46, and compared their reactions.

“The degree of security a woman feels in a swimsuit is a complex psychological issue,” he says, “and that is what we are trying to provide here: a support system.”

That support is provided subtly and is not easily detected on the outside or the inside; Oberson has detailed explanations for how he achieves that, too. Most of the bathing suits have a fairly basic cut: a triangular bikini, a strapless bikini with a high-cut leg, a one-piece suit that resembles a tank top, and another in a strapless version.

The designer says he put the most emphasis on the one-piecers in the collection: They look like they would be a wonderful solution for any woman who is wants to make a refined, classic transition from a young-at-heart bikini to swimwear with a stigma of being more serious. This is because all the one-piece suits are very open at the back and look almost like bikinis from the back.

For Oberson, the way the fabric "connects" to the wearer's back is extremely important; in each design he used a contoured seam at the level of the tummy, or added material that can be tied in front or in the back. The purpose of this was to allow the fabric to be tied close to the body, and to solve in a natural and comfortable way the problem of dealing with the abdomen, as he put it.

That is also how he treats the inner seams in each design: The lining is sewn with synthetic thread in overlocking stitching so that it will not rub against the skin or irritate it. All the linings in the collection are black to prevent any chance of a see-through look when the suit is wet. All the inner elastic is connected as one piece, and the elastic at the bust level does not irritate the skin. Instead, it provides support that is invisible but necessary.

It took Oberson a whole year to develop this collection with Castro, and the result is small scale but promising. In a country where there are significant gaps between high-end beachwear and the more affordable suits sold in the chain stores, we can use a "middle ground" that offers good quality at a fair price.

It seems that with Oberson’s help, Castro has found a way to raise the quality of its swimsuits, and also that the designer himself could not have found more perfect timing: a week before his own show at Gindi Tel Aviv Fashion Week, and the simultaneous announcement that he is going back to designing swimsuits and other beachwear for his own sophisticated brand.

Between smiles on Monday, he said he was very happy with his first collaborative effort with Castro. This invited a question about possible plans for another collection. And indeed, it seems that the chain's next summer collection, in a year's time, will feature beachwear by Oberson.

There is no more welcome news than that, since Oberson is known for his spectacular swimwear, which most of us could only dream about until now, given their price. Soon they will be part of Castro’s next collection, and accessible.

Dudi Hasson
Dudi Hasson
Dudi Hasson
David Hasson