By  on November 10, 2005

NEW YORK — Strolling through Manhattan this week, London-based designers Melissa Obadash and Julien Macdonald were surprised to see the city had rediscovered its love affair with black.

“There is no color in New York,” Obadash observed.

With their new collection, the duo is making up for that absence of color. The two were in town to launch Obadash-Macdonald, a collection of swimwear and lounge-like beachwear on which they collaborated. The line combines Macdonald’s signature bright prints and crocheted knitwear with Obadash’s sleek swim designs, and includes colorful bikinis and swimsuits sometimes adorned with flashy Swarovski crystals, tiger-print silk georgette cover-ups and jersey cotton caftans, tunics and slinky dresses.

The duo had a particular scenario in mind while designing the collection, which is called Exotic Coast. As they presented the collection, they referenced the beach life on the islands of Saint-Tropez, France; Porto Cervo, Italy; Ibiza, Spain, or even Mykonos, Greece, where Macdonald prefers to unwind.

“In Europe, we have restaurants on the beach and everybody watches everyone,” said Obadash, a New Jersey native. “In Saint-Tropez, you have four-hour lunches. People go from yacht to yacht. You can wear this to lunch or to go dancing.”

Obadash met Macdonald two years ago at a luncheon in the designer’s honor in London, and they immediately clicked. The pair seem like a suitable match: The Welsh designer, who once designed Givenchy, is known for sexy dresses the likes of Kylie Minogue have embraced. Obadash is known for flashy swimwear often marked by metal ring hardware details to hold fabrics together.

In addition to the multicolored print bikinis, swimsuits and dresses, the collection includes a crocheted swimsuit entirely adorned with Swarovski crystals. The pièce de résistance is arguably a black silk caftan with gathered details and hand-cut ostrich feathers that would have made Jacqueline Susann proud.

“This is the ultimate,” said Macdonald, who showed swim designs for his own label at the Miami Swim Show last year. “When I designed at Givenchy, I met so many couture clients, and a lot of them would ask me to do create things to wear around the pool. There was a market for such things in couture.”The collection is another sign that swimwear continues to see more designer entrants. Michael Kors and Carmen Marc Valvo recently entered the category, and firms such as St. John, Juicy Couture and Diane von Furstenberg also now have swim lines.

The Obadash-Macdonald collection targets March deliveries. The swimwear collaboration, which has suggested retail prices from $180 for a simple bikini to $6,000 for a crystal crocheted bikini, intends to mirror the distribution of both designers. Obadash’s signature collection is available at Saks Fifth Avenue, Barneys New York, Scoop and Intermix, while Macdonald has been sold through Jeffrey New York and Neiman Marcus. Obadash said she expects the launch collection to have a retail volume of about $2 million.

“Swimwear has always been the same,” Macdonald said. “When a fashion designer and a swimwear designer team up, you get something a little different.”

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