Tayside and Central Scotland

Rare 1920s swimsuit to make a splash at V&A Dundee

Racerback swimsuit Image copyright V&A / Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences
Image caption Swedish swimmer Arne Borg modelled a Racerback swimsuit in 1927

A rare unworn original Speedo swimsuit from the 1920s will go on display at Dundee's V&A Museum of Design.

The Racerback was banned from some beaches on its launch for being too revealing, but was later adopted by Olympic swimmers.

The swimsuit will be displayed in V&A Dundee's Scottish Design Galleries when the museum opens on 15 September.

Speedo was founded in Australia in 1914 by immigrant Alexander MacRae, who was born in the north-west Highlands.

Before the Racerback, swimsuits were made of wool and had sleeves to protect the wearer's modesty.

The Racerback had straps that crossed at the back and was made of cotton or silk, which absorbed less water.

The design was also significantly more tight-fitting than other contemporary swimwear and included the distinctive Speedo tick logo.

Image copyright Ross Fraser McLean
Image caption The £80.1m museum will open on 15 September

V&A Dundee assistant curator Meredith More said the Racerback's revealing back straps "challenged moral codes" in the 1920s, when mixed bathing was only just becoming acceptable.

She said: "Alexander MacRae was one of many Scottish entrepreneurs who moved abroad to make his fortune.

"Capitalising on Australia's growing beach culture, he created a ground-breaking swimsuit design that appealed to competitive swimmers and sunbathers alike."

The swimsuit, which is believed to be the only one in a UK collection, will be loaned to V&A Dundee by the Leicestershire County Council Museums Service.

The council's collections engagement officer Sarah Nicol said: "When this Speedo suit came up for sale at a local vintage shop, we realised that it was a rare opportunity to acquire a swimsuit of this age, unworn and still with its manufacturer's label attached."

Related Topics

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites