Bikinis, bikinis, bikinis….
There are so many things I love about summer, but there are days I’d rather have a bikini wax by Edward Scissorhands than actually wear a bikini. And I don’t think I am alone. But, this day of celebration is not about my itsy bitsy bikini woes….good morning and happy birthday bikini!
Today marks 72 years bikini debuted in Paris, a tiny two-piece swimming suit that didn’t immediately catch on among everyone and almost didn’t happen.
According to American Heritage, French designer Louis Reard had a hard time finding a woman willing to model his tiny invention. Lucky for him — and millions of beachgoers to come — a 19-year-old French exotic dancer by the name of Micheline Bernardini rose to the challenge.
Introducing the small suit to the world on July 5, 1946, Bernardini strutted in the newspaper-printed, G-string bikini for a fashion event at the Piscine Molitor, a popular swimming pool in Paris. The suit was a headline-making success.
Bernardini received 50,000 fan letters for becoming the first to wear the scandalous outfit.
However, not everyone celebrated Beard’s new invention…
Beaches across Europe and the Mediterranean initially imposed a bikini ban and removed bikini-clad tourists from beaches. Even in the late 1950s, the bikini was not deemed acceptable for any American women “with tact and decency,” according to a quote from Modern Girl magazine.
But that changed in the 1960s when the bikini became an integral part of American popular culture, featured in Brian Hyland’s “Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini” song and worn by actress Annette Funicello in the hit 1963 movie “Beach Party.”
Interesting fact: Reard dubbed “bikini,” after the Bikini Atoll Island in the Pacific Ocean, where a U.S. atomic test that took place earlier that week, as the new suit was a “bombshell.”
Happy birthday bikini, may you have many years to come.