The Bikini: tasteful, simple and classy, yet sexy, bold and provocative. Today marks the 66th anniversary of the two-piece bikini. While two-piece bathing suits had been worn on the beach before, the modern bikini was invented by Louis Réard in 1946. With this birthday and the launch of Fiftytwo’s Resort Beachwear market this month, what better time to take a look at the history of the swimming costume.
Louis Réard introduces the itsie-bitsy, teenie-weenie…well you know what we’re getting at. Made from just 30 inches of fabric, he calls it the “bikini” after Bikini Atoll, the Pacific Ocean site famous for hosting the first atomic bomb test on July 1, 1945. The bikini debuts at Piscine Molitor, a popular public pool in the center of Paris worn by Showgirl Micheline Bernardini.
Beaches across the world try to ban bikinis as do major pageants such as Miss World. Modern Girl magazine writes: “It is hardly necessary to waste words over the so-called bikini since it is inconceivable that any girl with tact and decency would ever wear such a thing.” In 1959, even Barbie still sports a one-piece.
It was not until the 1960s that bikinis took off in the U.S. Brian Hyland’s pop song “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini” comes out, surf culture enters the mainstream with Gidget and Beach Boys songs like “California Girls” and “Surfin’ Safari”. Playboy first features a bikini on its cover in 1962 and the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue debuts two years later. Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon star in Beach Party and even Gilligan sees some action.
1970’s and 80’s
The bikini’s popularity continues to soar, accounting for more than 20 percent of swimsuit sales in the US. Bikinis and swimsuits flare up in pop-culture, from the launch of Farrah Fawcett’s career to memorable movies such as Star Wars, National Lampoon’s pool scenes and Phoebe Cates’ memorable scene in Fast Times at Ridgemont High.
The one-piece makes a comeback due in part to some famous lifeguards as well as public awareness of skin cancer.
The resurgence of the bikini: research shows that US sales of two-piece swimsuits jumped yet again. Below, we included some of our favorite looks being offered today by Fiftytwo’s own designers, who offer everything from bikinis, tankinis, monokinis to traditional one-pieces. Don’t forget to visit us in Miami from July 21-24 to experience these fun pieces in person!
Looks clockwise from top left: Prism, Adriana DeGreas, Osklen, Tooshie