Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Swim's trend setters bring back one-piece swimsuit

Designers improve functionality with new developments in textiles

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MIAMI BEACH, Fla. - The sexy Brazilian bikini has reigned in Miami Beach for the last decade. And although the two-piece bathing suit dominates, stylists said designers were bringing  the one-piece back en force.

The two major swimwear industry events --The Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Swim and the SwimShow -- were presenting new designs to retailers shopping for the next season this weekend in Miami Beach.

"A couple of years ago, one- piece bathing suits were plain, conservative and therefore reserved for an older age group," Fashion Week Swim spokeswoman Cece Feinberg wrote in her Fashion Feist blog. "But now they are chic, sexy and a necessity for your summer wardrobe."

Designers were using the one-piece bathing suit as a canvas for different styles. Some had feminine ruffles, others had classic animal prints and others had modern neon shades. The "retro sexy" look of the 1950s and 1960s started coming back.

"The one-piece has become popular again because it reflects the best of both worlds," said Jane Boddy, head of women's wear at trend forecaster WGSN. "It looks back to the past with a retro slant, while also retaining a fresh, forward-looking style."

Designers were expected to showcase pieces that take advantage of new developments in textiles that improve functionality and flatters the body.

There is a choice between "heightened eroticism or heightened athleticism," said fashion historian Valerie Steele, director of the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York.

The modern version of the one-piece dates back to the 1980s, when the fitness craze contributed to an emphasis on sportiness, mobility and functionality in swimwear, said Steele.  Surf-inspired looks, such as rash vests and long-sleeved "onesies" were expected to make strong showings, Boddy said.

"The development in cutting-edge design is the driving force behind the one-piece movement, as is the emergence of active sports in the apparel market," Boddy said. "We're beginning to see these looks filtering into swim, too, and that's exciting."

Ultra-feminine styles flaunting details rooted in the world of intimates -- ruffles, straps and peek-a-boo cutouts were also expected.

CNN's Emanuella Grinberg contributed to this report.

Download fashion show schedule for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Swim

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