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Peekaboo! Cutout swimsuits make the beach sexy

Two of this year's peak-a-book style swimsuits: At left, a swimsuit by designer Melissa Odabas. At right, a suit by Red Carter. (AP photos)
Two of this year's peak-a-book style swimsuits: At left, a swimsuit by designer Melissa Odabas. At right, a suit by Red Carter. (AP photos)Read more

Associated Press Writer

MIAMI (AP) — Want to play hide-and-seek on the beach this summer? You'll need one of this season's hottest trends: A cutout swimsuit.

Swimsuit designers translated the cutouts, rips and slashes seen on fashion runways for the current spring season in a way that's sexy and glamorous without being vulgar, revealing just the right amount of skin.

Designer Melissa Odabash says everyone is asking for cutouts, even in more conservative places like Dubai.

"They end up being my best-sellers because I make them not really for the water," said Odabash, whose suits start at around $160. "They are more for just showing off your body."

Victoria's Secret created a couple of cutout designs after taking a look at the runways. Zac Posen, Balmain and Gucci are just a few top-tier labels who sent out strategically placed bare spots in clothing. Lower cost brands like Bebe also joined the trend.

"It's one of those easy translations from the runway," said Sharleen Ernster Lazear, senior vice president of brand design at Victoria's Secret. "It was a no brainer. It was a good fashion trend to jump on as a brand."

Stars including Heidi Montag, Kim Kardashian and model Miranda Kerr have been photographed in cutout dresses. Celebrity stylist Nicole Chavez said she's partial to the cutouts from Herve Leger, which are carried through cocktail dresses to swimsuits.

"I think it's a really chic look and it's really high fashion," she said. "The one-piece tends to be a little matronly. This is a way to wear one-peice and be very chic."

Several designers made cutout suits at a reasonable price: Guess, Gottex and Adidas by Stella McCartney.

Miami-based designer Red Carter, who designed a suit for Victoria's Secret that looks like it's sliced from side to side all over, called it an evolution of the monokini, a bikini held together with strategically placed fabric linking the bottom and top.

Chavez would pair a cutout swimsuit with a pair of great pants and wear it into the evening. The look is feminine and flirty without being overtly sexy. Sometimes a bikini can show too much skin, she said.

"It's kind of a peekaboo effect. You are only seeing parts of the skin which is sexier than seeing all of it," Chavez said.

Odabash warns to try one trend at a time — don't wear a neon cutout. Try a neutral tone, like black. And the look isn't for every body. Carter said he is seeing resistance from his customers to the trend.

"I find that the curvier you are, the better a cutout looks on you," she said, adding that her half moon cutout looks great on hourglass-shaped women.

Ernster Lazear called it a design for "a confident girl, confident and sexy. It's a hot, young design."

It's also for a woman who can embrace the trend, someone who loves fashion. This is not a suit to wear to the neighborhood pool, Chavez said.

"I think the women that gravitate to it are those that will feel comfortable in it," she said. "It's just a very expressive article of clothing."

And with this kind of suit, SPF is a must. Otherwise, Chavez said, "You'd look like a zebra. You have to have your spray tan ready to go."