Although many believe that the bikini just appeared in the 1940s, when it caused controversy and shock in France’s hot tubs, the truth is that women wore two-piece suits of this type at least since the year 1400 BC. At that time, it was the women’s sportswear of ancient Greece. There are also records of its use in ancient Rome, but the fact is that customs changed a lot in the years to come, and the bikini as we know it today remained censored for centuries until the 1900s. A competition between a French automotive engineer And a designer were who launched it to the fame.
Bikinis, the moral and good customs
Show some skin rather than hands and face was very frowned on for a long time in the Western world, so the first female swimsuits consisted of a kind of pajama that covered from the wrists to the ankles and was decorated With horrible red and white horizontal stripes. Before long she earned the nickname “prison suit”, and apparently no one went out to become sexy in this beachwear.
Little by little, however, more comfortable versions were developed, one-sided by sporting themes (in 1913, female swimming was accepted in the Olympic Games) and other activities, such as cabaret, lingerie and pin up style models, But on this side it was more a disguise than a real bathing suit.
Bikinis in the 1946 and the end of the war
The “fathers” of the modern bikini are considered the French automotive engineer Louis Réard and the fashion designer Jacques Heim, who in 1946 simultaneously launched this clothing separately in Paris. The summer of 1946 was the first free of war in Europe in years, which motivated a wave of desire to live the life that until now had not been possible in the area.
Although Réard’s profession did not have much to do with clothing, in those days the engineer was running his mother’s lingerie store in the French capital. The idea of making a small bathing suit came to mind when she realized that the women “rolled up” their suits to get a better tan.
His competitor, Heim, began selling his invention under the name of “atom” with the slogan “the smallest swimsuit in the world.” Réard responded by saying that his was “smaller than the smallest in the world” and called it “bikini”, by the Bikini Atoll, where the United States was conducting nuclear bomb tests at the time. Réard thought the clothes would cause as much commotion as a bomb.
The marketing around the bikinis
Réard’s bikini was so daring, that the engineer could not find any model who wanted to use the garment to promote it. Thus, Réard ended up hiring Micheline Bernardini, a stripper at a Paris casino.
Bernardini wore a 194-centimeter-fabric mooring bikini, and strolled through a public swimming pool in the city. The garment caused a sensation – especially among men – and Bernadini received 50,000 “fan” letters after the event. Although Heim’s more modest model was the one that gained more acceptance among the wearers who started dressing him on the beach, Réard’s more daring proposal finally made the bikini dominate the market.
It was not long before young women began to challenge the society in which they lived in bikinis. Governments such as Spain and Italy passed laws to ban this garment on public beaches by indecent but did not have much effect and by 1950 the bikini dominated European beaches.
The bikini became a symbol of feminine expression and liberation. It was the women who began to dress him who imposed it, breaking with the custom that kept them unable to show their body. And today, the bikini has already become a standard that is far from scandalizing anyone.