It seems hard to believe, but the bikini swimsuit is older than I am.
It was introduced in France by engineer Louis Réard in July 1946. Réard was a mechanical and automotive engineer by education, but was running his mother’s lingerie boutique near Les Folies Bergère in Paris. He named the design (four small triangles of cloth) after the Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean, where, four days before the bikini’s introduction to the world, the US had initiated its first peace-time nuclear weapons test.
Its impact was truly explosive. Réard said that “like the bomb, the bikini is small and devastating.”
I still remember the sense of outrage the bikini created in the US. Many western countries declared it illegal and the Vatican declared it sinful. Popularized by film stars like Brigitte Bardot, Ursula Andress, and Sofia Loren in Europe, and Ava Gardner, Rita Hayworth, Lana Turner, Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe, Esther Williams, and Betty Grable in the US, it became common in most western countries by the 1960s. But in the 1950s, the starlets took advantage of the risqué publicity associated with the bikini by posing for photographs wearing them.
The thing that probably did more than anything else to bring the new swimwear into the mainstream was the 1960 release of this song, today’s Groove of the Day. Since then, summer has never been the same.
Groove of the Day