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The “bikini” swimsuit was named after islands the US used for nuclear testing

Goran Blazeski

Although bikini was introduced to the world in 1946, the history of bikini goes back in ancient times. Archaeologists discovered Roman mosaics from 300 A.D. that depict the bikini. So it’s clear that the history of the bikini begins much earlier than 1946.

However, The name bikini was coined by Louis Reard, and it actually refers to Bikini Atoll, where atomic bomb testing took place. He decided for this name because he hoped that the swimsuit would cause the same reaction as when people for the first time saw the rising mushroom clouds of atomic bombs.

The ancient Roman Villa Romana del Casale (286–305 AD) in Sicily contains one of the earliest known illustrations of a bikini

The ancient Roman Villa Romana del Casale (286–305 AD) in Sicily contains one of the earliest known illustrations of a bikini

Louis Reard wasn’t the only one who was trying to design this type of small bathing suit. His bikini rival was Jacques Heim, he also designed a tiny bathing suit and he wanted to name it “Atome,” since atom was recently discovered.

Heim announced that he designed the world’s smallest bathing suit, but in reality, Reard’s version was actually much smaller.

Reard’s version of this bathing suit was so small that it was very difficult for him to find a model that would be brave enough to wear his invention. His bathing suit made of just 30 inches of fabric made troubles for him to find a model to wear it.

Academy Award winning actress Jane Wyman on a California beach in a two-piece swimsuit that bares the legs and midriff

Academy Award-winning actress Jane Wyman on a California beach in a two-piece swimsuit that bares the legs and midriff

His troubles with finding a model to wear the bikini came to an end when finally Micheline Bernardini, a nude dancer accepted the challenge and bikini was officially introduced on July 5, 1946, when Micheline Bernardini paraded onto the runway in it at a poolside fashion show in Paris.

People were both shocked and titillated by the model’s skimpy attire. Americans thought of it as too scandalous to be accepted in America but only one year later bikini made its debut into American fashion.

Bikini was so controversial at that time that Vatican declared it as sinful and it was soon banned in Belgium, Italy, Spain, and Austria.

Publicity photo of Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello for Beach Party films (c. 1960s). Funicello was not permitted to expose her navel.

Publicity photo of Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello for Beach Party films (c. 1960s). Funicello was not permitted to expose her navel.

In 1952, the well-known French actress, Brigitte Bardot appeared in a bikini in the movie “The Girl in the Bikini,” also actress Raquel Welch posed in a bikini for a publicity shot for her 1967 movie “One Million Years B.C” but in 1962, the Swiss actress Ursula Andress, (the first James Bond girl) made history when she wore a bikini in the James Bond film Dr. No.

We have another swimsuit story:The Spruce Girls: Ladies wearing spruce veneer bathing suits in 1929

The bikinis from the 1940s and 1950s were fairly modest in their coverage, as compared to current standards but it would eventually undergo several transformations as the decades progressed.