The summer of 1946 was the free season of Paris. Europe has just emerged from the Second World War, the beach is clear, and the liberated French are ready to be further liberated – this is a small, insignificant further, in the form of women’s bathing suits, which may be just right for small glasses.
The bikini was born on the poolside shot of Paris on July 5, 1946, a week before the bus bottom and a shortage of global textiles. Designer and former engineer Louis Réard hired the only model who was willing to expose so many models. A 19-year-old nude dancer from the Paris Casino was named Micheline Bernardini. She put on the four small pieces he had stringed together and showed the female navel to the fashion world.
Réard’s innovation is not the first to divide a woman’s traditional swimwear into two parts. Hollywood idols and model models have long worn a two-piece suit, just as the thousands of GI ankles are still visible from the cover of Europe. But the navel is novel.
Kelly Killoren Bensimon recorded the history of the costume in the Bikini Book. He said that the last inch of the mid-abdomen is the last “contention area” in the fashion world.
“We have seen Jayne Mansfield and many other actresses wearing two-piece swimsuits,” Ben Simmon said in an interview. “But never exposed the navel. This is the scandal.”
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In addition to some of the human evidence that female athletes participated in the two-piece clothing competition in ancient Greece and Rome, the history of women’s bathing clothing is also a long-term cover. Victorian women dare to bathe in public places, so wearing them for a long time can only be distinguished from everyday wear by moist means.
But the skirt slowly rises, the neckline slips, and the sleeves retract shoulders. Women’s swimming was introduced at the Stockholm Olympics in 1912, and wool manufacturer Carl Jantzen of Portland, Oregon, began selling a sleeveless piece, even though his knit wool garment was fitted with a hat and stockings.
Rayon and other new synthetic fabrics make a more comfortable and fit suit, which is great for Busby Berkeley and other choreographers of synchronized pool dance numbers, becoming the main content of the film. In the 1940s, swimming star Esther Williams appeared on the screen and poster in a two-piece suit, showing that the belly and abdomen above the button made her a national champion in the 100-meter freestyle.
Shocking things, but once the war is over, the tan lines are bound to become more tangled.
By 1946, Reina had left the automotive engineering company to engage in the mother’s underwear business. In the exciting months after the armistice, he competed with another designer for an arms race to create the world’s smallest swimsuit.
Competitor Jacques Heim has succeeded with what he calls “Atom.” But Reard stitched together a piece of napkin paper-printing fabric and made something smaller than Heim’s Atom, named after a remote bikini atoll. The place where the atom was split during the atomic bomb test that week.
“We have seen it after many wars,” Bensimon said. “In a safer moment, we will get these free and human celebrations.”
At first, bikinis are more like success than success. Some photographers and models dare to shoot suits, and Réard built his own business around design.
However, the obstacles to breaking the humility on European beaches are slow, not to mention the post-war United States. Many commentators condemned this situation and many communities have banned it. Even today, swimsuits are still the center of debate in some Western regions; Barcelona was banned from wearing bikinis in 2011.
But the celebrities started their own navel exercises. Six years after Bernardini became the first girl to wear a bikini, Bridgette Bardot made a “girl in a bikini.” In 1962, Ursula Andress was in “Dr. No” only the knife and bikini as the original Bond girl.
According to Bensimon, the jet era has indeed increased the fate of this thin and light garment. Wealthy and glamorous people began to shuttle into and out of the Riviera, bringing new beachwear standards to the coasts of the world.
Bensimon said that in the United States, a former Mousketeer spent a lot of money to let his family watch. When the Mickey Mouse Club’s children’s star Annette Funicello was allowed to wear a bikini in most of her crazy beach movies, it wasn’t just that Frankie Avalon did a double shot.
“Everyone noticed,” Bensimon said. “She just wants to be a cool kid.”
Many see her children as well. By then, the top-down adoption of bikinis in the United States is irreversible.