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Keiko's Bikini Atelier: Get 'Em While It's Hot

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Now that we're finally feeling some summer heat, it's time to shed the layers and bare some of that pasty flesh. This period is otherwise known as the beginning of bikini season, and there is no better way to do it up than in a custom-made suit from Keiko's on West 23rd Street. Not only is Keiko's a true atelier, with dress forms and bolts of fabrics waiting to wrap your sumptuous bits, but the store is one of the few independent niche boutiques to have survived the big chain takeover of Soho and re-emerged at a new address, stronger than ever.

After being commissioned to create the cover swimsuit for the men's magazine Oui in 1980, orders for Keiko's tailor-made suits spilled over into her first shop in Soho, at 62 Greene Street. In 2006, it was time to vacate the wholly logo-ridden Soho and resettle in Chelsea, where Keiko's business continues to thrive as one of New York's word-of-mouth shopping secrets.

Getting on the list for a custom suit is step one, and after two fittings and all the embellishments or revealing cut-outs desired, men and women can be free from the SML sizing of department stores. The perfect fit doesn't come cheap; expect between $200-350 for alterations of sample styles and $350-$600 for a sartorial swim masterpiece like Keiko's creations for Serena Williams and Uma Thurman.

No worries if you're not quite a Hollywood body; Keiko has listened to the desperate wishes of bathing beauties everywhere with optional tummy support, wired cups and sizing up to a women's 22. But truly, the success and long life of Keiko's small atelier is due to the fact that she provides the rarest of rare in retail in New York: authoritative yet caring, personalized attention.