The Miokini Concept
In the late 1980s, the legline-meets-armhole maillot high-legline mutates into a new maillot species which bares the belly, yet remains connected at the sides by siderings, sideties, or criss-crossing X-sided fabric.
Swimsuits of this species are called miokinis (short for maillotkinis) because the term suggests both their one-piece maillot nature, or "mioness," as well as their bikini nature, or "kininess." Miokinis are not bi-kinis, but they are kinis in spirit.
A miokini should not be confused with a monokini, which is the lower half a bikini, a culotte worn topless. Nor should it be confused with a number of different bikini and maillot silhouettes which involve ambiguity between one and two pieces. These include the slide-side halter with ties pulled through the v-kini brief, the suspender maillot (especially when worn with a soutien-gorge), the maillot cutout, the pretzel, and the cross-tension.
The key identifying characteristic of miokini involves vertical tension: a top and bottom gathered into a single system of suspension that pulls the legline up and keeps the top down (FL8614). The critical distinction is that miokini has the latent concept of two-piece coupled with vertical tension, whereas the maillot cutout does not.
An X-side maillot almost always has seven edges (two armholes, two leg-holes, one neckline, and belly and back). A shoulder-strapped side-ring also has seven edges where as a haltered version may have six.
One of several ways to engage this connection is with rings at the midriff which connect the tops and bottoms, a practice which dates from the 1960s, and parallels the evolution of the sidering culotte. The two most obvious are ring connections at the belly center (BZ6805, CK6810) or at the sides, although the latter silhouette appear not to mature until the 1980s. A comparison diagram is found here (BSD8876). The centerring (or center-ring) maillots are an ambiguous species, and are interpreted by some experts as a maillot cutout.
One may also classify the early 1980s side-joined bikinis as miokini, for example, tank tops coupled together to higher waistline v-kinis (NY8410). This look is popular in athletic exercise-wear, with a tankini combined with a high legline, high waistline montante, a showing a touch of bare belly-button (FI8821). Like everything else of the era, they are absolutely devoid of lining. But these early experiments are a far cry from the full formed species.
The Mature Side-ring Miokini
The difference in the late 1980s is the influence of the very high legline; rings become a natural joining element as the rising legline collides with the lowering armhole. Thus the side-ring miokini, and its two points of connection that enable the entire side to be bare. The possibilities opened up by these new tension points are enormous because they involve rotating the design axes of the swimsuit 90 degrees, from left-right to front-back. The side rings can animate from under the armpit down to the hip (BSD8877), providing a dynamic control of back, hip, pubis, and chest exposure. They further enable a very high legline, V-cleavage, a bare back, and cleavage on the side of the breasts.
Much of the mystery and eroticism of these sleek adornments is a fusion of novel tensionings and new combinations of exposure. The side tension point of the miokini--for example, the seat of the ring--offers unique front-back symmetrical tensioning possibilities and dramatically different exposures. Very high leglines are de rigeur, the sides of the breasts come into play, and the stomach scoops deeply to the pubic hair, and focuses attention on lower belly, echoing the silhouette of the v-kini (FL8614).
The waist tension point can create unusual breast coverings and a variety of top styles all flourish. The strapless is extremely risky and rare (RP8806 demonstrates this exception), but shoulder straps (FL8614) proliferate, as do halter tops (CH8710), tankini (LV8707) and some bizarre new configurations. One of the most unique new designs, with a strongly vertical bias and X-front, comes from Norma Kamali (fig. 31-4). The bosom is covered by some kind of halter variation that is supported from above and below. Kamali combines a squarish hip line with a pair of criss-crossed burnished gold breast patches that are supported from above with slide-sides. The opposite end of the breast covers fasten to the brief, pulling it into center; so the model may display hairage.
Variety in Fastenology
A variety of fastening and tensioning devices may be employed at the side. One of these are rings (NY8410, FL8614, FI8821), which relate the miokini to the sidering culotte. Other fastening devices include ties (IAB8602, LV8707) and hems (PV8810). The fastening device is either real or illusionary. and it can also be high or low, raising or lowering the waistline.
Another side variation is the X-side miokini, in which the top and bottom may join (EM9210), or not, and criss-cross each other (IAB8601, FI8817, FI8818, RP8806. JA9102). Into the early 1990s, the side fastening device continues to rise, lifting the side of the waistline with it, and deeping the front.
The miokini trend also drives buttage toward tanga, and as the 1990s progress the miokini silhouette easily blends with the tanga silhouette. Maillot tanga in general is rare in the early 1990s, largely at the expense of bikini tanga or topless tanga, but it gains share mid-decade and some of that share is miokini tanga. This play can happen with the sidering, the sidetie, or the X-side (RL9136K, CB9160).