BIKINI UNVEILED IN PARIS 70 YEARS AGO TODAY
Paris, France (JFK+50) Seventy years ago today, July 5, 1946, French designer Louis Reard* unveiled a two piece swimsuit here in Paris which he christened the bikini after the Bikini Atoll, an atomic test site in the Pacific.
According to Ross Eveleth of Smithsonian, the designer chose the name hoping the swimsuit would "elicit the same shock and horror that the atomic bomb did."
The bikini was modeled by a 19 year old showgirl at the Casino de Paris named Micheline Bernardini. The first bikini was made out of 30 square inches of fabric.
The new swimsuit was introduced a year later in the United States but, in fact, was banned in many cities. The bikini did not become popular in the USA until the early 1960s when Brian Hyland sang the popular song: "Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka-Dot Bikini".
*Louis Reard (1897-1984) was a French automobile engineer and clothes designer. He was inspired to design the bikini by women on St. Tropez beaches who rolled up the edges of their swimsuits to get a better tan.
Although the 2 piece bathing suit had been around since the 1930s & may even date back to Roman times, Beard's brainchild was the first to expose the navel.
"The Bikini's Inventor Guessed How Much It Would Horrify the Public," by Ross Eveleth, July 5, 2013, www.smithsonianmag.com/