I learned the history of the Bikini.
The bikini, a small two-piece swimsuit for women, was created in 1946 by French designer Louis Réard. Another designer, Jacques Heim, created a two-piece bathing suit he called the atome. Jacques Heim said his design was the world’s “smallest bathing suit”, but the bottom was still large enough to cover the wearer’s bellybutton. Louis Réard decided to make an even smaller design, and advertised it as “smaller than the smallest bathing suit”.
The first bikini was worn by Micheline Bernardini on July 5, 1946. She was hired to model the swimsuit by Louis Réard at an event for the media at the Piscine Molitor, a popular public swimming pool in Paris. Five days earlier, the United States performed the first post-war atomic bomb tests at the Bikini Atoll, in the Pacific Ocean. Louis Réard named the swimsuit design after that, and said he hoped the bikini would be “small and devastating” like an atomic bomb.
- The bikini design gained popularity outside France in the 1960s when it was worn by film stars like Brigitte Bardot, Raquel Welch, and Ursula Andress.
- Louis Réard studied mechanical engineering, but took over his mother’s lingerie business in Paris around 1940. After the initial popularity of the bikini, he opened a bikini shop in Paris, and sold swimsuits for the next 40 years.
- Two-piece swimsuits for women date back much farther than the bikini. The earliest artwork showing clothing like a bikini is from around 5600 BC. Women athletes wore two-piece clothing in ancient Greece, as shown in artwork from around 1400 BC. Other artwork appears in Sicily, Italy, from around 300 AD.