A good idea stretches a long way. That is what Toronto swimwear designer Daniel Storto discovered recently in the offices of New York City’s fashion barons. At one New York magazine last month, editors who had kept him waiting for two hours suddenly crowded around to play tick-tacktoe on his latest “game” bathing suit. Now, after earning accolades from Women's Wear Daily, the bible of the fashion industry, Harper's Bazaar and Bergdorf Goodman, one of New York’s most elegant clothing emporiums, Storto is now anticipating that one of his creations may make the cover of December’s Cosmopolitan. In Canada Creeds, Harridge’s and Eaton’s are carrying the Storto line. Awed by the wave of attention, Storto claims nonetheless that a warm reaction was guaranteed. “I had to have one gimmick suit for the American market,” says Storto. “No one could turn me down.”
In an industry abounding with imitation, Storto has carved his own path with a line of highly theatrical bathing costumes for this winter’s tropical jaunts. The 28-year-old designer has invented cotton lycra and nylon spandex suits that experiment liberally with the female form, revealing the body in novel ways while transforming it into a portable game. The $90 Tic Tac Toe suit, which features a grid on the front and movable plastic X’s and O’s, promises to be the height of this genre. “Anyone who can sew two seams together can make a one-piece bathing suit,” he says. “But that’s boring. I can design those in my sleep. The point is to produce something that’s totally surprising but wearable.”
The hallmark of Storto’s new style, and the benchmark of his career, came this spring with his new variation on the bikini—the Tubini. Mating bikini bottoms with brightly colored tube tops made of stretch fabric in varying widths, the Tubini has been selling swiftly in boutiques across Canada and the United States. The tubes can be layered and crossed by adventuresome wearers to produce one-piece, two-piece or even six-piece bathing suits—an affordable option at only $10 to $20 per tube. Says Storto: “A woman can create her own look.”
This fall will see the release of Storto’s supersuit—The Wrap. Revolutionary in its simplicity, the $50 bikini version is a basic bottom equipped with a stretch-cotton sash that can be wound around the body to bare either a little or a lot. The $70 one-piece model sports a sash of shiny, waterproof ciré, punctuated with metal eyelets. By playing with the sash, the wearer can create dozens of different looks. “The idea,” says Storto, “is to make something out of the suit instead of letting the suit make something out of you.”
Storto is the first to admit that, versatile though he may be, his garments are not for the masses. “My swimsuits are not for bathing,” he sniffs.“I can’t imagine them in the water. [They are] for beautiful women who want to walk up and down the beach and be noticed. I don’t want to create a swimsuit that any woman can wear. I want to make something every woman will want to wear.”
Nor has Storto exhausted his theme. Operating from his small studio with one worker and two sewing machines, Storto is hard at work to preserve his swimwear reputation. Next season he plans to unveil two playful new additions to his collection—The Octopus and The Fin.
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