The bikini has turned 75 but still remains young and does not seem to go out of fashion for the years to come. The bikini was created by a French mechanical engineer Louis Réard who couldn’t find a willing model. So the Frenchman hired a striptease dancer Micheline Bernardini for the presentation of his bikini on 5 July 1946. Rest, as we know is history.
Louis Réard couldn’t have timed the presentation better as the United States had just exploded a nuclear bomb on the Bikini Atoll in the South Pacific. The Frenchman’s bikini too turned out to be equally explosive.
Socially, the moral police were ‘active’ against women ‘shamelessly taking their clothes off.’ So Réard’s creation was socially more acceptable. The women also did not mind as it presented as a better alternative to the skirts and long aprons as suggested by the moral police.
Swimwear for the future
The bikini was banned in public for many years, and even Vogue magazine avoided the tiny piece of clothing. But bikini found favours with movie stars like Marilyn Monroe and Brigitte Bardot.
Then came the James Bond film “Dr. No” in 1962 in which the Swiss model and actress Ursula Andress wore a bikini in an unforgettable scene, and her swimsuit went down in history as the “Dr. No Bikini”. The white bikini worn by Ursula Andress as Honey Ryder is still among the most famous bikinis of all time.
By the 1960s, bikini caught on and took on many forms, from the self-adhesive ‘Trikini’ to the topless ‘Monokini.’ However, both had bombed out.
The bikini soon became the new symbol of the emancipation of women along with the birth control pill, the miniskirt, and the social unrest of the 1960s. For many women, the bikini was a symbol of liberation.
A coveted fashion item
By the 1980s the bikinis were no pariahs. Models, including supermodels like Claudia Schiffer, Linda Evangelista, and Naomi Campbell, competed to be featured in them.
In 1989, Pamela Anderson appeared in a red bikini in the American action drama television series Baywatch which was an instant hit worldwide.
Today, the bikini is a classic worn by women of all ages and body types.