July 5th marks the 65th anniversary of the bikini’s debut in Paris at the Piscine Molitor, a public swimming pool. The original two-piece swimsuit, modeled by nude dancer Micheline Bernardini, had a G-string style bottom that measured just over 13 square inches. Oo là là!
While considered shockingly modern at the time, the style of the bikini bathing suit can be traced back to ancient Greece, with images appearing in Pompeii and in a mosaic floor at the Sicilian ruins of the Villa Romana del Casale, circa 300 CE.
Designed by engineer/designer Louis Réard, the bikini was named after the the Bikini Atoll where nuclear bomb tests had occurred earlier in the week. Réard felt that the suit would heat up beaches and inflame minds more than the explosive tests–and also he was riffing on a competitor’s less revealing suit named Atomique.
He was right: the launch of the daring two piece suit, which revealed the belly button for the first time, caused more outrage than the bomb explosions.
Now at 65, the bikini is very socially secure and has spawned dozens of variants and trends including the “fruit basket” European swimsuit for men and the Brazilian bikini wax…