Is it hot there where you live? Are you planning to take a holiday soon? Maybe you live by the water and have a chance to chill on the beach every weekend? Relaxing by the pool works too! Anyways, give this post a read – we’re exploring the history of the bikini, right on time! Keep scrolling! ;)
The bikini as we know it – in the form of somewhat covering triangles and strings – is dated to July 5, 1946. But people had all kinds of swimwear before that. Even as far back as ancient times!
During excavations in Pompeii, archaeologists discovered a statue of Venus wearing something that looked like a swimsuit. Some Roman mosaics dated back to the 3rd-4th century AD feature images of athletic women wearing clothes resembling bikinis.
After ancient times, bathing suits were prohibited until the 20th century. Christianity claimed such clothes were unholy and inappropriate – and beaches were no place for leisure. At the beginning of the 20th century, women were allowed to visit the beach. They had to wear long gowns, voluminous pants, headpieces, and corsets. A little later, the rules and standards started to change rapidly.
In the early days of the feminist movement, women fought for their right to wear clothes more appropriate for the beach than those elaborate and restraining gowns. But the bikini was still far away.
In 1907, the Australian swimmer and actress Annette Kellerman wore the figure-hugging one-piece swimsuit during her performance. This swimsuit was deemed too revealing and immodest. By today’s standards, the suit wasn’t exposing at all, but back then it brought Kellerman a lot of trouble. She refused to wear and stood against ill-fitting swimsuits, which had a liberating effect on women’s swimwear.
In 1913, a designer named Carl Jantzen made a step forward and separated the one-piece swimsuit into a cropped top and high-waisted shorts. At first, the public had mixed opinions on the novelty. However, Jantzen’s creation started the trend for two-piece swimming suits.
Skip forward to the times of modernism. People aimed to use as little fabric as possible for clothes creation, a healthy lifestyle and sunbathing were super trendy – enter two designers who introduced the first bikini. It was back in 1946.
The first one was Jacques Heim who created a two-piece garment called Atome. The name referred to the fact that an atom was the smallest particle, and the suit pieces were also tiny compared to the existing alternatives. Unfortunately, we don’t know much about that swimsuit now. And the name didn’t stick.
In the same 1946, on July 5, Louis Réard proposed his vision of the two-piece swimsuit – the “Bikini.” It consisted of three triangles and six strings. The designer expected his creation would hit like a bomb and chose a symbolic name. Bikini is the name of the atoll where the USA carried out its nuclear tests.
Finding a model who would be willing to demonstrate the first bikini was nearly impossible. Everybody refused because the swimsuit was so exposing! The only yes they had was from a 19-year-old Micheline Bernardini, a nude dancer at a casino.
These days, nobody would even gasp even at the sight of a micro bikini. And perhaps, it’s great because we are free to look however we like – we can buy, sew, and wear what we want.
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