What I Know About Style

deborah fleming

Pistol Panties


Deborah Fleming, founder of Pistol Panties, on simple yet scandalous swimwear and her guilty pleasure

What sparked your passion for designing swimwear?

I was always obsessed with swimwear, having grown up on the beach in Miami and travelling at every opportunity to other beach destinations. I still think swimwear is one of the most exciting things to buy in a department store.

How does your costume design background influence your swimwear designs?

It definitely influences me. I think swimwear should be dramatic and treated like a costume piece like they did in the ’50s when they put much more thought into designing swimwear, like corsetry and intricate beading/bows/patterns and shapes. After all, they are called ‘swimming costumes’ for a reason!

You love to use vintage and quirky prints. Where’s the best place to source these fabrics?

Mainly old furniture shops and vintage fairs where you can find off-cuts of vintage upholstery. Upholstery fabric have the most original and bold prints.

What’s your favourite era for fashion?

The ’50s because that’s when the pin-up era was at its height. It was when swimwear became very feminine, sexy and fashionable.

A few celebs have been spotted wearing Pistol Panties – can you name-drop a few?

Sometimes we are lucky enough to have had celebs photographed on holiday in our bikinis – including Claudia Schiffer and Kate Moss.

Born in Paris, you’ve had quite the cosmopolitan upbringing. Which city do you regard to be your home?

London is my home now; it’s by far my favourite city for so many reasons and I’m fortunate to be raising my family here.

What is your favourite cut? And would you go for simple or scandalous?

My favorite cut this month is the Jane, a one-piece structured swimsuit. Mainly because I have just had a baby five weeks ago and the Jane is very forgiving and gives a lovely silhouette. I always recommend a simple style with a scandalous print or a scandalous cut in a simple/solid colour.

What could you not live without?


Do you collect anything?

Vintage upholstery.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

American Idol (I can’t believe I just admitted that!).

If you could design swimwear for anyone in the world, who would it be and what design would you go for?

Elizabeth Taylor in the ’50s (pre-Burton). She was an amazing combination of pin-up and sexy vamp chic. She would have looked gorgeous in any of the styles.

The Pistol Panties pop-up shop opens on the 3rd floor of Selfridges on Thursday 29 March, stocking the complete S/S 2012 swimwear range.

Pistol Panties, 75 Westbourne Park Road, London, W2; www.pistolpanties.com; 020 7229 5286

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