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1946, The Year the Bikini was Introduced

Getty Images, photo by Gianni Ferrari

The dates seem to vary between June 5th and July 5th, but whatever the date, the Bikini was introduced in 1946 by French designer Louis Reard. For the time, a two piece bathing suit that small was unheard of because at that time a two piece for women was a halter top and shorts.

Paris showgirl Micheline Bernardini was the first to model the new bathing attire and the name was inspired by Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean which tested the U.S. atomic bomb. The first Bikini made was made from only 30 inches of fabric and  Reard said if you couldn’t pull a Bikini through a wedding ring, then it wasn’t a true Bikini. In Spain and Italy women were wearing the new fashion to the beach but the countries passed a law prohibiting the wearing of something so small. By the 1950’s attitudes changed and the Bikini business was booming.

In America the fashion was slow to catch on until the song ‘Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka-Dot Bikini’ became popular and the beach blanket movies of Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon took the country by storm. Since then the Bikini continues to grow in popularity while it continues to shrink in size.

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