HISTORY OF THE BIKINI

HISTORY OF THE BIKINI

This summer, you can accessorize your True Fashionista heart out with just the right sandals, eyewear and tote, but if you’re not rockin’ the latest swimsuit, it could all be for naught. As we’re always happy to catch you up on what’s going on in the swimsuit section of True Fashionistas Resale, Naples’ best luxury consignment store, for the moment we’ll take you back and see how the bikini, that staple of all things sexy swimwear, was birthed and recall its ascension to the throne of the swimwear world.

BIKINI INTRODUCED

The two-piece bathing suit was introduced in 1930’s Europe initially as a halter top and shorts. Only a sliver of midriff was revealed and the navel was well covered.  The excitement was dwarfed by WWII, however, when wartime fabric rationing put funwear on the proverbial back burner. Beach life in Europe was also scaled back quite a bit with pesky Allied invasions and all.

It wasn’t until post-war times that the bikini really had its shot at popularity, as post-war Western Europe eagerly headed back to the beaches in summer 1946. In response to the liberated mood, two French designers, Jacques Heim and Louis Réard, simultaneously had the genius idea to develop a two-piece swimsuit. Heim called his the “atome”, advertising it as “the world’s smallest bathing suit.” Réard’s version, however, went even skimpier, featuring simply a bra top and two inverted triangles of cloth tied together by string. Created from a scant 30 inches of fabric, Réard promoted his creation as “smaller than the world’s smallest bathing suit”, and gave it the name bikini, named after Bikini Atoll, the site of the first atomic bomb test the previous year. It’s quite obvious which name stuck.

In case you’re speculating as to the common thread of meaning between the two names, keep in mind that it was the atom bomb that effectively ended the war, so we could rejoice and wear True Fashionista swimsuits while frolicking freely at the beach once again.

BIKINI POPULARITY GROWS

Shocker! Louis Réard actually had issues finding a professional model to wear his super skimpy two-piece, so he turned instead to someone who had no problem appearing nearly nude in public, exotic dancer Micheline Bernardini, a Casino de Paris exotic dancer. Réard knew his True Fashionista creation would create headlines, so he beat ‘em to the punch and printed newspaper type across the suit that Bernardini proudly modeled at the Piscine Molitor. No surprise, the bikini was a smash, especially among men. (cue eyeroll) Bernardini ended up receiving over 50,000 fan letters from that gig!

From there, the bikini was the hottest item going in Europe, to the point where Spain and Italy tried to pass measures prohibiting it on public beaches, but later relented as there was no stopping the bikini’s popularity. Réard’s business went stratospheric, but he managed to keep the bikini’s mystique alive by advertising that a two-piece wasn’t a bikini “unless it could be pulled through a wedding ring.”

THE AMERICAN BIKINI TAKEOVER

Here in the good ol’ US of A, it took quite awhile longer for the bikini’s full acceptance. Bring on the youthful liberation of the early 1960’s, and the bikini had arrived in full force. In 1960, we can point a chunk of the blame at singer Brian Hyland and his silly, yet catchy song about a certain “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini”. The movie industry followed with a string of hit “beach blanket” movies starring Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon coupled with the emergence of California surfing culture celebrated by a cadre of rock groups like the Beach Boys, Dick Dale and The Surfaris. In the middle of it all, there was the True Fashionista bikini, now a solid fixture of beach life.

BIKINIS FOREVER

Designers since have reduced the bikini to even less material and more strings, like in 1988 when G-strings gained popularity, and have even gone for leather, like Adriana Degreas’ Sao Paulo runway look worn by Eva Herzigova in 2010.

Not to completely disregard the one-piece and other two-piece styles like the tankini, monokini, bandeau strapless top, bike shorts and crop-top; the bikini is here to stay, and can be found in your local consignment store in Naples, FL, True Fashionistas Resale. Shop online or in person at the area’s best designer consignment store in our always updated collection of luxury designer clothing. Surf’s up, dude!