A Wave-Making Beach Fashion Hit Turns 70

This article 1st appeared in Sixty and Me

What once-banned, now ubiquitous female summer poolside and seaside attire is celebrating a 70th birthday this month?

If you answered the bikini, you really are a dedicated follower of fashion.

The modern bikini debuted in France in July of 1946. It was the creative idea of Louis Reard, a French automotive and mechanical engineer. He was also running his mother’s lingerie business in Paris at the time.

The new swimsuit was so scandalous that Reard couldn’t find any models willing to wear his navel-exposing design at its debut press conference. Instead, Reard hired a 19-year-old nude dancer Micheline Bernardini to wear his string bikini. It consisted of four triangles made from 30 square inches of fabric printed with a newspaper pattern.

At the time, Reard heralded his creation as “smaller than the smallest bathing suit in the world.” He said he had named it after the Bikini Atoll, the site of the first nuclear device test just five days earlier.

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About dleeprice

I’m a retired journalist and educator now operating a freelance writing/speaking/consulting practice in DC focusing on 4 subjects - the Baby Boom generation, classic rock, issue on aging, and grand-parenting.
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