The bikini was introduced at a fashion show on July 5, 1946, in Paris, where Louis Reard and Jacques Heim, its designers, introduced the revealing suit to the world of fashion. Reard and Heim could not find any well-known female celebrities at that time willing to risk wearing the bikini in fear of ruining their reputations. So, they hired Ms. Micheline Bernardini, a nude dancer who was working in Paris at the Casino de Paris.
See the History of the Bikini Slideshow
The swimsuit was an immediate international rage. However, it was not until the 1960s that the bikini took off in the U.S. In 1951, bikinis were banned from the Miss World Contest. The USA only had begun to warm up to it shortly after fashion martyr and French film star Brigitte Bardot wore one in the 1957 movie And God Created Woman. Adding further fuel to the fire, singer/songwriter Brian Hyland’s 1960 pop song “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini” prompted a global warming to the bathing suit that has lasted forever after.
Foster Grant’s lady on the run and actress, Raquel Welch, also was a brazen pioneer of fashion who bravely exposed herself for the advancement of sexy swimwear to the limelight by wearing a fur-pelt bikini in the black and white classic One Million B.C. In 1964, Sports Illustrated launched its first bikini cover. Forty-two years later the Swimsuit Edition is SI‘s best-selling issue year after year.
The bikini has been stretched and shrunk over time and has gone from traditional to thong to string to mono and to micro. The mono-kini is a bikini bottom only that many men bodybuilders wear in competitions, and the micro-kini makes an average bikini look like a blanket. Sales of bikinis remain as brisk as ever with annual sales in the billions. Perhaps the world of fashionable swimwear owes a debt of gratitude to Ms. Micheline Bernardini for being willing to bare it all on that great day in fashion history, July 5, 1946. After all, this same design appeared on Roman women in sports competitions in 300 and 400 BC, according to some very reliable cave walls.
On behalf of JustLuxe and swimsuit designers, bikini models, women, and men who dare to stare, thank you, Ms. Bernardini, for your contribution to making the world a more fashionable and stylish place.
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