Bikini

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Bikini as a fashion item. © Glenn Francis, www.PacificProDigital.com
Half a bikini = a monokini
Sports bikinis give extra support and protection for the breasts. German pole vaulter Floé Kühnert

A Bikini is a type of swimsuit for women. It consists of two parts; pants and a bra top, leaving an uncovered area between the two. The bikini is an ancient invention, reinvented after the Second World War.

The bikini is perhaps the most popular female beachwear around the globe.

"This is due to "the power of women, and not the power of fashion... The emancipation of swimwear has always been linked to the emancipation of women". Olivier Saillard.[1]

By the mid 2000s bikinis had become a US$811 million business annually, according to the NPD Group, a consumer and retail information company.[2] The bikini has boosted spin-off services like bikini waxing and the sun tanning industries.[3]

History[change | edit source]

The "Bikini girls" mosaic showing women exercising, first quarter of the 4th century AD. Villa Romana del Casale, Sicily

Predecessors of the bikini date back to antiquity, in Çatalhöyük[4] and the Greco-Roman world.[5] Artwork dating back to the Diocletian period (286-305 AD) in Villa Romana del Casale, Sicily depicts women in garments resembling bikinis in mosaics on the floor.[1][6] The images of ten women, dubbed the "Bikini Girls",[7] exercising in clothing that would pass as bikinis today, are the most replicated mosaic among the 37 million colored tiles at the site.[8] Archeological finds, especially in Pompeii, show the Roman goddess Venus wearing a bikini. A statue of Venus in a bikini was found in a cupboard in the southwest corner in Casa della Venere, others were found in the front hall.[9]

By the early 1940s two-piece swimsuits were frequent on American beaches. Hollywood stars like Ava Gardner, Rita Hayworth and Lana Turner tried similar swimwear or beachwear.[10]

Finally, the modern bikini was introduced by French engineer Louis Réard and fashion designer Jacques Heim in Paris in 1946. Réard was a car engineer but by 1946 he was running his mother's lingerie boutique near Les Folies Bergères in Paris.[11] Heim was working on a new kind of beach costume. It comprised two pieces, the bottom large enough to cover its wearer's navel. Réard named his swimsuit the "bikini", taking the name from the Bikini Atoll, one of a series of islands in the South Pacific where testing on the new atomic bomb was occurring that summer.[12][13][14] Réard could not find a model to wear his design. He ended up hiring Micheline Bernardini, a nude dancer from the Casino de Paris.[15] That bikini, with a g-string back, had 30 square inches (194 cm2) of cloth with newspaper type printed across. It introduced on July 5 at Piscine Molitor, a public pool in Paris.[16] Heim's design was the first worn on the beach, but the clothing was given its name by Réard.[1]

Other websites[change | edit source]

References[change | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Kathryn Westcott: The Bikini: Not a brief affair BBC News, 2006-06-05
  2. Sylvia Rubin: Fashion shocker of '46: the naked belly button San Francisco Chronicle, 2006-07-02
  3. Lorna Edwards, "You've still got it, babe, The Age, 2006-06-03
  4. Prithvi Kumar Agrawala 1984. Goddessess in Ancient India, page 12, Abhinav Publications. ISBN 978-0-391-02960-6
  5. Peter J. James, I.J. Thorpe & Nick Thorpe 1994. Ancient Inventions, page 279, Ballantine Books. ISBN 978-0-345-40102-1
  6. Villa Romana del Casale, Val di Noto
  7. Allen Guttmann 1991. Women's Sports: A History, page 38, Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-0-231-06957-1
  8. Villa Romana del Casale, World Heritage Sites Archived 9 April 2012 at WebCite
  9. Pompeian Households, Stoa Image Gallery, The Stoa Consortium
  10. James Kitchling, Short history of bikinis and swimsuits, 3X24 News Magazine
  11. Adam Sage, "Happy birthday: the 'shocking and immoral' bikini hits 60", The Times, 2006-04-16
  12. Random history: Tiny Swimsuit That Rocked the World: A History of the Bikini
  13. Paula Cocozza: A little piece of history", The Guardian, 2006-06-10
  14. The Bikini Turns 60, 1946 to 2006: 60 Years of Bikini Bathing Beauties, Lilith E-Zine
  15. Rosebush, Judson. "Michele Bernadini: the first bikini". Bikini Science. http://www.bikiniscience.com/chronology/1945-1950_SS/LR4601_S/LR4601.html. Retrieved 2007-09-19.
  16. History Channel: Bikini Introduced, This Day in History, History Channel