Burkini a woman's choice, not politicians - designer


A New Zealand swimwear designer says the French burkini ban would never have happened here - and women should be allowed to wear whatever they feel comfortable in.

Across the ditch, the Australian inventor of the burkini, Aheda Zanetti, has also spoken out at attempts in France to ban it.

"This is a swimsuit that represents freedom and sun and surf and happiness and swimming and leisure, family happiness," she says.

Right now though, the burkini is dividing opinion in France.

It was banned in around 30 coastal towns and cities, a decision which caused outcry with the release of a photo showing police ordering a woman to take hers off.

The ban has just been ruled illegal by France's highest administrative court, but many towns in the south of France have vowed to keep it in place.

Former president and current candidate Nicholas Sarkozy supports them, calling for a law to ban them across the country.

But Ms Zanetti disagrees completely.

"Hasn't he [ex-French President Nicholas Sarkozy] got anything better to talk about? I mean, doesn't he need to fix his country and not split it apart?"

France has strict laws against the wearing of religious garb or symbols in public places, which has widespread political and public support.

However, New Zealand swimwear designer Emma Ford - who showcased her latest collection at Fashion Week in Auckland today - says a ban would never fly here.

"I think the most important thing is to feel confident in what you're wearing and whether that's a tiny bikini or a burkini, you should be able to embrace either things."

Ms Ford says burkinis aren't common in New Zealand and she has no intention of designing them herself, but she reckons swimwear should be the wearer's choice, not a politician's.