(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay - Sitting down with Liz McClarnon to talk about her new Fashionworld Swimwear Collaboration.

Image (c) Fashionworld.
Last week I was invited by Fashionworld to sit down and have a chat with their latest collaborator, Liz McClarnon. If you have yet to see their swimwear range, then get ready to fall in love - kitsch prints, retro shapes and clever designs to keep you feeling supported and fabulous.

Liz McClarnon. Image by Diana Thompson / Fashion Loves Photos.
I met Liz and the Fashionworld team in a swish Mayfair hotel where I got my first glance of the new collection. The stunning prints really appealed to my vintage sensibilities with cherries, flamingos and daisies adorning sumptious 50s shapes.

We sat down on the sofa together to have a chat, where I was bursting with questions about the range. Firstly I was really intrigued as to how the collaboration came to be.
Fashionworld is a big thing in my family. Both the younger and older women are all fans, some of them being a size 12, others a 24 or 26. We love the styles so when they approached me, I was like "Oh hello!" I really wanted to take on swimwear - to be honest, on the high street it's the thing I'm most disappointed with. I've been a few sizes in my time and it annoyed me when I had to change my style just because that's all there was on sale.  
I really felt as if it wasn't fair – I wanted a certain thing and felt like there was no one accommodating for me. When I was at a smaller size I felt I was almost expected to where this tiny, tiny bikini which showed off every bit of my flesh other than the rude bits and it just didn't make me comfortable. But then, once I got to a bigger size, it was a case of you have to wear this one piece now. Why? Why do I have to wear that? I have a certain style, a bit 50s and 60s, and I want to wear that all the time so why can't I? There's a massive gap in the marked for a style of swimwear so I said that's what I want to do first, and this is what we came up with.

When I first saw the collection, the immediate thing which came to mind was the beautiful 50s cut of the two-piece sets. The shorts in particular were really evocative of Marilyn Monroe in the 50s, so I wondered if this had been an intentional nod.
My love really is the 50s and 60s but we went more for the 50s as to me, that's when women looked liked women. I like a higher waist on a two piece as it helps to form the figure more and that was a big thing for me. They were still eye catching because of the prints and that is where the attention was drawn from - not because you've got all sorts of parts cut out with lots of flesh showing. I didn't want it to be a bikini which was like “look at me because I'm pretty much naked". I wanted it to be about the style and about the design.

All items in the collection go up to a UK size 32, and I mentioned to Liz that this was a brilliant move.
It's the first time that Fashion World have had a two piece bikini in the top ten best sellers! Though isn't it really annoying that you wouldn't normally see a bikini in a 32 because people assume that you wouldn't want to wear it. Who are you to say that – it really gets on my nerves! 
The gorgeous range of bikinis from the Liz McClarnon Fashionworld collection. Image (c) Fashionworld.
I wanted women to feel more comfortable a two piece, that was a big thing for me. And certainly I think the first step to that was making it available! I have a lot of hangups with swimwear so it was important to get it right. I envisioned a lot of women wearing it as the bikini is the same in every size. We haven't just added panels – they are the same style in every style - what you see is what you get!
The designs really came from personal experience. You know at the end of a holiday where you're in agony because your neck is raw from where your straps have been holding your boobs up? Well to counter that, we went for thicker straps with more support underneath as well as moulded cups to give a shape.I wanted to make sure that everyone felt that they could wear a bikini top whether they were large or small chested. 
The lovely swimdresses from the Liz McClarnon Fashionworld collection. Image (c) Fashionworld.
I was really intrigued to find out what Liz enjoyed most about designing the collection, and also was was next for her and Fashionworld.
What I enjoyed the most? The feedback, because I was really nervous. Really, really nervous. I didn't want people to think that I was assuming I knew what everyone wanted. I'm very nervous about things like that. I wanted people to think that I understood rather than I was telling people what to wear so the feedback was the most important bit. It was definitely the most nail-biting bit for me too. When everyone went “love it, done, love it” I was like “Oh my god, oh my god” and it gave me so much confidence and we just forged ahead.
As for what's next, we have more swimwear, lounge wear and then lingerie*. We've got some beautiful things coming up – they've still got prints on them but they're more subtle with panelling to give you smooth sides. The swimwear and lingerie again are very 50s inspired, but the lounge wear, obviously not. But I live in tracksuits, so that's why we went for that!

* I asked if the lingerie would come in larger cup sizes, and although the final sizes hadn't been confirmed, they will definitely go as far as a G cup with the potential to go to an L.

Bandeau swimsuits from the Liz McClarnon Fashionworld collection. Image (c) Fashionworld.
Wrapping up the interview, I wanted to know who Liz's style icon was.
Marilyn is a big one for me, Marilyn Monroe. Not even just for this project in particular, I just love her anyway. She's a big inspiration with underwear and stuff as to me, she's the sexiest woman going! Who else would I say? I don't think there's anyone else apart from her to me.

Kaftans from the Liz McClarnon Fashionworld collection. Image (c) Fashionworld.
My final question was about what Liz's favourite piece from the collection was, and it was no surprise that she found it hard to choose just one.
My favourite costume is the cherry print, my favourite two piece is the daisy and then in the swimdress, it's the flamingo.

My favourite is definitely the Flamingo Swimdress as the shape is so lovely and the print is just so deliciously kitsch. 

You can view the entire collection by clicking here and fall in love with your perfect Summer beachwear.

Until next time,

Diana xx

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(All photos (c) Diana Thompson / Fashion Loves Photos unless otherwise stated. Please do not reproduce without written permission.)


  1. Loved this post Diana, great interview and gorgeous pic of Liz. B x x

  2. What a nice and beautiful you are looking in this photo..

    Fantastic Clothing


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