This is Past And Present,
the ultimate challenge to see how fashion has helped
sport move forward to this day. We travel all around the globe
to challenge six athletes and six designers to make
an old garment and test it under
today’s conditions. Let’s see what happens when
past and present collide. (PAST AND PRESENT
SYNCHRONIZED SWIMMING) (BARCELONA) Ona is the captain of the Spanish
synchronized swimming team. She won silver at London 2012
and 90 more medals throughout her whole career. Started synchro at 10, and wrote her first book at 26.
And if you take a walk around Barcelona’s
trendiest neighbourhoods, you’ll probably find her face
on billboards of major brands. But there’s more. She’s also studying
fashion design. This is her teacher
and partner, Cristina. Together they designed
the outfits for the Spanish team
of synchronized swimming for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. That’s why we challenged them
to recreate an old swimsuit from the beginning of synchro. There was a time
when synchronized swimmers weren’t called as such. They were just
“aquatic dancers” and their swimsuits weren’t
elastic or extra light like in the present. The textile revolution came
many years after but they didn’t wait for it. Using a 100% cotton
or tapestry fabric to build a swimsuit
was a trend in those days. So let’s go back in time
and see how it felt. One of my favourite movies
is Bathing Beauty, and it’s where synchro started.
In fact, here in Spain, when you mentioned synchro
everyone was like, “Oh, that thing
with Esther Williams.” She’s the icon of this
water dancing sport. So, now the girls have chosen the model
they want to recreate, it’s time to make
some drafts… Some details on the waist. ..find some inspiration… and take some measurements.
Right? Now…we measure her. All right. You’re the boss. You remember Esther, right? It’s really important to make
precise measurements. Later, in the water, every inch
of fabric is going to count. So demanding. I think she’s
a hard-working person, she has lots of patience
and you need that. Turn around. Today we did the design,
the first sketch. Then we did some patterns,
and after the patterns, we cut down a test one. (SO CUTE) It’s so cute! Here…I’ll make
a really nice pleat. And let’s bring
the cleavage down… If I can breathe, even better. No. Back then, they didn’t breathe. Well, I need to expand
my lungs in the water, to grab some air,
and I don’t know if I can. – No.
– Oh, well. (THE FABRICS) Now we’ll go look
for some fabrics in a well-known,
classic store, from years and years
here in Barcelona. And let’s hope we can find
one that suits what we need. This is so hard. It would need to be like
the classic tapestry fabric, not elastic, because… nylon and polyester
did exist back then, but they were just
starting to be used. I like this one a lot. I think it suits
what we want to do and it goes really well
with my skin. I think we could
give this one a try. I took part, along with Ona,
in the design of the swimsuits that went to Rio. This is the fourth year we
design the swimsuits. It’s been quite a difficult
process. It was difficult because,
training so much, studying, and designing the swimsuits
on top of that, it became quite a huge task. When we do a swimsuit
for competition, we try for it to have
just three seams. On the sides, and…
the one in the crotch. This swimsuit we just made
has about…ten pieces. Which already
makes everything harder. When I try it on the water, the worst thing won’t be
the seams, but the shape. Now, everything is online
and almost ready. It’s time to move on. It fits really good. It fits as tight as it should. I’m a bit scared because
she’s like… really tight. I can’t even move
that much. Well, that’s the point. It’s really, really tight. Back then they used it
like this, but since we do a lot of stuff
arching back, with flexibility and our legs
over here… like contortionists,
well, with this fabric, I don’t know if I’ll be able
to move much. Try lifting your leg. Tomorrow is the big day – the experiment in the pool. That’s the whole thing. It’s really, really rigid. Finally, the day has arrived. The swimsuit is ready. Every detail has been checked. And double-checked. And Ona is super focused
on the test. The design is quite pretty.
The fabric is, well, it is ideal for…
for a couch, I guess. – With a wide position.
– And the arms? This is Esther Jauma,
Spanish National Team Coach. The right voice to lead us
through the experiment. I’ve learned a lot by her side. She knows really well
what she wants and how to get there. All right, this is the moment
we have all been waiting for. Everything is ready
and in place. And we want to see it
from all possible angles. Ona is about to make
an exhausting quality test of the swimsuit. It’s important to gain
a first impression – how the swimsuit feels
in the water. How was it? It weighs a lot. Weighs a lot. I think she feels
more uncomfortable than what it really
hinders her movements. Now, let’s perform
a second test. We’re trying to see how
the swimsuit affects movements. I told her to start with
something simple, like that. OK. Define “simple”. Ona seems to be fighting
to gain some speed and grace, but it looks like the swimsuit
is not really working for her. Well, it squeezes
my thoracic cage and I can’t breathe. Technically,
the biggest difference is that it weighs too much. Normally, when she does
this exercise, her legs come out of the water
almost to her butt cheeks, and now they were just
around her knees. OK, first fact – the swimsuit seems to be
a little bit heavy for Ona. She’ll try
a really explosive exercise. And usually she’s able to
almost get her head out. See? She’s lacking
what we call “height”, which is getting your body
out of the water, which right now, she can’t, because it stops her. With the skirt,
water gets inside, and that creates
a lot of resistance. While going upwards
with her legs, the skirt stops
all her movement and the strength
she builds with her arms. We asked Ona to try
an actual Olympic swimsuit to see the biggest differences
between the two of them. Usually she’s able to do
this same move with a great height. She can get pretty much
all her chest out of the water, and there’s nothing wrong
with what she does. Clearly,
she’s in a great level, but compared
to what she can do, this… is slow, is heavy… She’s twisting around because
I asked her to try what the skirt does when she… makes upward
and downward movements. – I can’t get up!
– She says she can’t get up. Now, let’s see Ona
making some fast twists. Well, her legs’ opening
doesn’t vary much, she can move her legs
rather well. – Yes.
– How’s that? It’s tough. Oh, well.
Definitely. Because these
are short exercises, but if she had to make
a three-minute choreography, since this is so heavy
as it fills with water, and the fabric is so heavy, she would probably show
her exhaustion a lot faster than with a regular suit. Ona has performed
the same exercise with the old
and new swimsuits. Now it’s easy to see
what happens when past and present collide. She looks slow. I figure
she feels really heavy with that fabric, so it really
slows down everything she does. I feel heavy, yeah. I was expecting it, but,
you know, we did something. And the cold?
Does it feel warmer? It does feel
a bit warmer. You know why? Because I have
two layers down here, which are a bit…
too much. That’s probably the only
good thing about this swimsuit. Yeah. What score would you give
the swimsuit? – An eight?
– No. Five. A five? All right. Throughout the experiment, we’ve heard that the swimsuit
was heavy. And here is the math. Wow! 860g! We’d have to do a special
physical preparation just to tolerate
that swimsuit. I think it turned out…
pretty good. Pretty faithful. It’s been one cool process
and, to me, quite different. Synchronized swimming
swimsuits have changed a lot
since the beginning, allowing athletes to improve
their physical development and make the sport
much more competitive, aesthetic and glamorous. This sport,
as only a few others, pushes the athletes
to get involved in the creative process
of the design of the swimsuits, making them
the perfect junction between fashion and sport. Every piece of garment
featured in the Olympic Games resumes thousands
of human hours and creative work,
and hard work. That’s why we love synchro. (PAST AND PRESENT)

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Dennis Veasley

44 thoughts on “Synchronised Swimming in a Vintage Suit from the 1920’s ft. Ona Carbonell | Fashion Behind the Games”

  1. It is curious how in the opposite a lot of rhythmic gymnastics maillots gain a lot of weight due to the bunch of swarovski rhinstones used on them, no matter what I love them hehe

  2. Chlorine breaks apart or dissolves cotton fibers which clog filter systems in pools. That’s why we weren’t allowed to wear clothes containing the material or fabric during Physical Education or P.E. when I was in high school. May or may not be the same reason why synchronized swimmers no longer, or uncommonly, use it.

  3. The swimsuit was too skimpy at the bottom. Her backside was showing. That would not happen back then. The real thing would have been heavier.

  4. Nice idea however the swim suit is not that accurate – it has far less 'bottom' to it than a swimsuit from the 1940s (Esther Williams period), which gives Ona more movement than Ms Williams would have had.

  5. I grew up a dancer and was just wondering why they point their toes/feet like that as opposed to a dancer doing a "move". they scrunch their toes, where is a dancer uses her whole foot to point. just curious:)

  6. Awesome sport.
    If only without the makeup and that unnecessary walk in walk out routine, then people would enjoy it more.

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