I find the bikini to be very interesting, and so for the start of summer (calendarwise anyway) I thought that a little history of this garment was in order. Love it or hate it the story of the bikini and it’s beginning is fascinating.
The bikini has been turning heads for 7 decades. It’s sales has turned into 8 billion dollar a year business. When you wore the bikini is signified freedom and confidence. As famous as it is, it is not well known that the beginnings of the bikini was actually born during WWII.
Louis Reard (ray-YARD) had this problem. He had designed something that would shock the masses. But was missing a name for it, something exotic, bold, and awe inspiring. A half of a week before he was to show the world his new bikini in Paris, the U.S. Military provided him with a name. They exploded a nuclear device near a small atoll in the Pacific known as the “Bikini Atoll”. On July 5th, 1946, he unveiled the bikini. Although he later claimed that he named the bikini after the islands and not the atomic blast, it was clear that he took advantage of a “hot topic”. Reard called his bikini “Smaller than the world’s smallest bathing suit.”
Reard’s “bikini” was so small, in fact, that no Parisian models at the time would wear it on the runway. He hired Micheline Bernardini, a nude dancer at the Casino de Paris, who had no qualms about strolling around in a bikini. Bernardini was not what you’d a classic beauty, but after photos of her in a reclining pose hit the press, she was overwhelmed with close to 50,000 letters of “fan mail“.
Two piece bathing suits weren’t new. As part of wartime rationing, in 1943 the U.S. Government, ordered a 10 percent reduction in the fabric used in woman’s bathing suits. So, off went the skirt panel, and out came the bare midriff. At beaches throughout the nation, men paid undivided attention to women doing their patriotic duty. But Reard went miles further. His suit was shrunk down to 30 inches of fabric – basically a bra top and two triangles of cloth connected by string – and put the navel on the world’s center stage.
The world was shocked, Catholic countries banned it, Hollywood was pressured to keep it out of the movies. It was said that it’s a “two piece bathing suit which reveals everything about a girl except for her mothers maiden name.” Movie star Esther Williams who appeared in a two piece bathing suit in movies more than anyone, once said: “A bikini is a thoughtless act”. No ones knows if she was talking about the bikini or the thought of having to wear one. Reard’s company did it’s part to fan the flames of fantasies by stating that a two piece wasn’t a bikini “unless it could pulled through a wedding ring.” In the ’50’s Brigitte Bardot did the most for the bikini – everywhere but in puritan America, where it was and invitation to scandal. As recently as the late 50’s an American magazine snipped, “it is inconceivable that any girl with decency would ever wear such a thing“.
By the early 1960’s the USA was ready for new frontiers, up to and including, large areas of unclothed flesh. In 1960 singer Brian Hyland immortalized the bikini with his song “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini.” Three years later the bikini meets a challenge in the form of Annette Funicello. The ex-mouseketeer’s “Beach Party,” with singer Frankie Avalon, leads to six sequels, including the famous 1966 “How to Stuff a Wild Bikini”. No special effects were used.
As so often happens times and tastes change, and just as importantly, people age. Through the ’80s and early ’90s, the sales for bikinis began to slip. Sales for it only accounted for one-third of the women’s bathing suit market, Reard’s company was unable to react the slipping sales and in 1988 it closed it‘s doors.
The bikini, however, appears to be making a comeback. Sales are up! Some cite the “healthy living” factor – or as I am inclined to believe the Internet itself.
Don”t forget our BFF “All Snook UP” Gift Certificate Giveaway… Share your BFF story on a comment, and you and your BFF can win a $25.00 Gift Certificate…Each!
Have a fantastic day!
OH and one more thing…
Then there IS this – read these…