Mabs of Hollywood (Canterbury) gold satin swimsuit, 1940s

This glamorous swimsuit was owned by Alice Greville, born in Thoralby, Yorkshire in 1924. She moved to NZ with her parents in her early teens and attended Takapuna Grammar. After leaving school she worked for Social Welfare in Auckland, and in 1949 she married Dr M. Greville. Alice was an avid shopper and loved to sunbathe, so this costume likely spent far more time beneath the sun than immersed in water, which is probably how it has managed to stay in such fantastic condition. 

Mabs of Hollywood was one of the many American labels that was made under license in New Zealand by Canterbury, and this is a fine example of the kind of garments that featured revolutionary activewear textile technologies that emerged after WWII. The rayon blended 'Lastex' material is what lends the glamour of a high-shine satin exterior to a fabric which has a high content of rubber elastic (as seen in the internal images), allowing movement, and a figure clinging silhouette without the need for many seams.

The open herringbone stitching around the bust area not only allows for greater movement and support, but adds delicate detaling. Stretch panels in the versatile button-on straps mean that this swimsuit can be worn in a variety of ways; halter neck, with straight straps or crossed over. This, coupled with the low cut legs and the modesty panel on the front are indicative of the styles made popular by Hollywood film stars in the post-war era such as Esther Williams. 


Credit: Jody Miller on behalf of the Greville Family
Copyright: Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 4.0 Licence
Designer: Mabs of Hollywood
Maker: Canterbury
Garment type: Swimsuit
Material: Gold elasticised rayon satin
Features: Herringbone stitch detail, convertible straps, long line sihouette
Colour: Gold
Last published: October 2023
Label: Mabs of Hollywood under license by Canterbury
Date: 1948