"The atomic bomb of fashion"
The first 'two-piece' swimsuit became popular for practical reasons during the war, as rationing meant there was less fabric available. However, it wasn't until 1946 that designer Louis Reard created the word's first bikini.
The key difference between a 'two-piece' and a 'bikini' being, that the bikini reveals the belly button, something that was extremely taboo at the time. So taboo in fact the original model refused to wear the bikini as it was 'too shocking', so it was first seen on a French nude dancer, Micheline Bernardini. Bernardini was seen holding up a matchbox in the first photos of the suit to indicate that the bikini was so small it could fit inside a matchbox. As a result of the shoot, she received 50,000 fan letters and moved to America to work as an actress.
Named after Bikini Atoll, a coral reef in the Marshall Islands where nuclear weapons were tested, Diana Vreeland (Vogue Editor and style legend) referred to the new suit as "the atomic bomb of fashion."
The bikini was subsequently declared sinful by the Vatican. It was also banned in France and various US states. In 1957, Modern Girl magazine wrote that, "It is hardly necessary to waste words over the so-called bikini since it is inconceivable that any girl with tact and decency would ever wear such a thing."
But thank goodness the bikini persevered where other garments have fallen, as personally I don't think the 40's style high-waisted two-pieces are very flattering at all.
Interesting modern day bikinis are both decreasing and increasing in size, with Brazilian bottoms becoming more common place (also featured in our next collection), in contrast to the sport-luxe trend which sees sturdier style tops.
One trend that we are glad didn't make it through is the topless swimsuit! In 1964 these were supposed to be the next big thing. Rudi Gernreich, the designer who originally conceived of the chest-exposing one-piece, said that he anticipated that within five years, breasts would be exposed at American beaches. For a few years Gernreich was right! Copies of the topless swimsuit were sold at Henri Bendel, and Brigitte Bardot was pictured sunbathing in one, but luckily the trend eventually died out.
We salute the bikini, our favourite item of clothing!