I found this wonderful article on costumes for "bains de mer" (sea bathing) from the 1913 Gazette du Bon Ton, an exclusive French fashion magazine targeting a wealthy and sophisticated clientele. The magazine was printed in limited quantities and was illustrated by many of the finest Art Deco artists of the period. Unfortunately, I do not read French and when I tried to translate the article using Babel Fish, I got, well, babble. Still, the charming and colorful illustrations showing what was once considered the finest in fashionable swimwear can be enjoyed in any language.
As the Victorian era passed into the Edwardian and Roaring Twenties, a market developed for bisque and china bawdy novelties and figurines of women in revealing outfits. Although now most of these figurines seem more coy and cute than ribald and risque, in their time they symbolized the casting off of the perceived restraints of the Victorian era.
These little lovelies included bathing beauties, who came clad in swimsuits of real lace or in stylish painted beach wear, as well as mermaids, harem ladies, and nudies, who were meant to wear nothing more than an engaging smile. Also produced were flippers, innocent appearing figurines who reveal a bawdy secret when flipped over, and squirters, figurines that were meant to squirt water out of an appropriate orifice.
Most were manufactured in Germany from the late 1800s through the 1930s, often showing remarkable artistry and imagination, with Japan entering the market during World War I.