Bikini History
Bikini History  presents  presents

History of the Bikini
In Brazil
the French Riviera leads the way
Human Body as Art
Bikini History 1970 to today
Girl from Ipanema
This global anthem in 1962 led to bikini contests which inspired a less is more aesthetic in the world's most loved urban beach culture.
Baths of Pompeii How far apart were the Romans from the baths & beachs or Rio today?
bikini [swimwear]
bikini [all ]
bikini [Brazilian]
bikini [french]
bikini [books]
thong [footwear]
Sheet Music Plus - The Girl from Ipanema
bikini became mainstram following the numerous surf movies of the early 1960s. Dr. Strangelove was among these first movies to feature a bikini in memorable scenes. The elaborately and lavishly assembled Busby Berkeley film spectacle, Footlight Parade of 1932 showcases stunning aquachoreography that profusely featured what could only be regarded as bikini swimwear.In 1951 bikinis were banned from the Miss World Contest following the crowning of Miss Sweden in a bikini and subsequent protests with a number of countries threatening to withdraw. In 1957, however, Brigitte Bardot's bikini in And God Created Woman created a market for the swimwear in the US,
A bikini contest is a beauty contest where women compete against each other in bikinis. Bikini contests can take place in bars, nightclubs, strip clubs at beaches, and beauty pageants. Related companies regularly sponsor such contests to discover and attract new talents to promote their products. Bikini contests can also take place over the Internet by women submitting pictures of themselves in bikinis.[33]
Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1960 telling the story of a shy high-school student in a very revealing polka dot bikini bathing suit (which she apparently did not try on beforehand) who stays immersed in the ocean water to hide from view, while other high-schoolers gossip about her.
Beach Party films were an American 1960s genre of feature films which often starred Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon. They were originally intended as a low-budget imitation of both the Elvis Presley musical and the Doris Day sex comedy, aimed at the teen market, but they ended up taking on a life of their own. The "classic" series was produced by American International Pictures, and imitated in turn by numerous other studios. Beach Party (1963), Muscle Beach Party (1963), Bikini Beach (1964), Pajama Party (1964), Beach Blanket Bingo (1965), How to Stuff a Wild Bikini (1965), The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini (1966) are titles that were made as part of the classic beach party genre. The final entry in the original series was The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini, released in 1966. The end credits for another AIP Avalon comedy, Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine (1965) reveal that the original title planned for this film was The Girl in the Glass Bikini, and that Funicello and Avalon were slated to appear. However, Funicello and Avalon both passed, and the leads in The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini were played by Tommy Kirk and Deborah Walley.
In 1962, an icon was born as Bond Girl Ursula Andress emerged from the sea wearing a white bikini in Dr. No. Other iconic portrayals of bikinis in movies include Raquel Welch as the prehistoric cavegirl in the 1966 film One Million Years B.C., and Phoebe Cates in the 1982 teen film Fast Times at Ridgemont High. These three scenes were recently ranked 1, 86, and 84 respectively in Channel 4 (UK)'s 100 Greatest Sexy Moments in Film.[6]
Bikini Atoll is one of the 29 atolls and five islands that compose the Marshall Islands. These atolls of the Marshalls are scattered over 357,000 square miles of a lonely part of the world located north of the equator in the Pacific Ocean. They help define a geographic area referred to as Micronesia.
Princess Leia Organa Solo of Alderaan (born Leia Amidala Skywalker) is a fictional character in the Star Wars universe. She was portrayed by actress Carrie Fisher in A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jed
Goldie_Hawn began her career playing a stereotypical "dumb blonde" personality.  which brought her to international attention as one of the regular cast members on the 1960s sketch comedy show.  Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In. She married Bill Hudson, of the Hudson Brothers, the two divorced in 1980 and have two children, Oliver Hudson (born 1976) and Kate Hudson (born 1979), both of whom are now noted actors.  Hawn has been in a relationship with actor Kurt Russell since 1983,
Honey Rider from 1962 Bond film "Dr. No" also wearing a hip holster holding a hunting knife. Ryder is widely regarded as the first Bond Girl
Villa Romana del Casale has the earliest documentation of the bikini form
Films of holidaymakers in Germany in the 1930s show women wearing two-piece bathing suits. They were to be seen again a year later in Gold Diggers of 1933.
A Brief History of the Bikini  How the tiny swimsuit conquered America. By Julia Turner




The swimsuit as a particular article of clothing did not appear until the early twentieth century, consider it part of our legacy to future generations as its first cycle of returning to its original form nears the completion of its cycle.

In Classical antiquity swimming and bathing was most often done nude. In some settings coverings were used. Murals at Pompeii show women wearing two-piece suits covering the areas around their breasts and hips in a fashion remarkably similar to a bikini of c. 1960. After this, the notion of special water apparel seems to have been lost for centuries.

In the 18th century women wore "bathing gowns" in the water; these were long dresses of fabrics that would not become transparent when wet, with weights sewed into the hems so that they would not rise up in the water. The men's swim suit, a rather form-fitting wool garment with long sleeves and legs, similar to long underwear, was developed and would change little for a century.

In the 1980s the thong or "tanga" came out of Brazil, said to have been inspired by traditional garments of native tribes in the Amazon.

History of the Bikini

A Brazilian story: while the backless bikini bottom is widely credited as having been first made popular on the beaches of Rio de Janeiro. The direction can be seen as beginning in the early sixties with the vision of a girl from Ipanema in her 2-piece and the swimsuits competitions at Ipanema that followed in her wake.

 Bombalurina does "Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini"
"Chamber of the Ten Maidens" 1 of 10 bikini clad girls. This Roman mosaic in the Villa Romana del Casale of Sicily depicts  early bikinis, most appear exercising in a spa. Two-piece garments worn by women for athletic purposes have been observed on Greek urns and paintings, dated as early as 1400 BC.

During the dark age baths throughout Europe disappear. Widening Christian influence, first expressed by St. Benedict in 550, loathes nudity and sensuality and commands that bathing is sinful. Baths are banned in Europe in 1538.

Swimwear fashion  experienced a very long dry spell following the fall of the Roman Empire as water sports went out of style and Europeans regarded the sea as only  a source of physical therapy instead of recreation.

It was certainly not the first time women clothed themselves in two-piece, midriff bearing attire. The oldest depiction of the two-piece bikini appears at the end of the Roman Empire in. The famous mosaic from the 4th Century AD, found in the Villa Romana del Casale (Piazza Armerina, Sicily), shows ten maidens wearing bandeau tops and bikini bottoms. As public bathing was a common tradition for many ancient civilizations clothing covering private parts would have been common and is found most prominently among  the ruins of Pompeii.


Pompeii society shows no sign of bashfulness in its many frescoes and surviving statues.


Still the two piece suit is a relative rarity in our surviving art legacy. The Greeks and later the Romans gave us Aphrodite/Venus who represents the most popular archetype of the beauty from the sea. It is common to find sirens and mermaids in many cultures.





Annette Kellerman
In 1907 the swimmer Annette Kellerman from Australia visited the United States as an "underwater ballerina", a version of synchronized swimming, involving diving into glass tanks. She was arrested for indecent exposure, as her swimsuit showed arms, legs and the neck. Kellerman changed the suit to have long arms and legs, and a collar, still keeping the close fit revealing the shapes underneath. She later starred in several movies, including one about her life.


 The evolution of swim wear in the 20th century became the course of discarding the uncomfortable corset and the work eroticizing the body was done by exposing more and more skin.

At the turn of the 20th century, female swimmers went to extraordinary lengths to conceal themselves at the beach. They wore voluminous bathing costumes and even made use of a peculiar Victorian contraption called the bathing machine, essentially a small wooden or canvas hut on wheels. The bather entered the machine fully dressed and donned her swimming clothes inside. Then, horses (or occasionally humans) pulled the cart into the surf. The bather would disembark on the seaside, where she could take a dip without being observed from the shore.
Suntans were considered a sign of low class, so many women covered their heads and faces.

In 1907, Australian Annette Kellerman caused quite a stir, when she was arrested in the United States for wearing a loose, one piece suit that became the generally accepted swimsuit for women by 1910. The swimsuit apron disappeared by 1918, leaving a tunic covering the shorts. Even though matching stockings were still worn, bare legs were exposed from the bottom of the trunks to the top of the shorts. On some beaches in the United States, men were prohibited from going topless as late as the 1930s.


Spain 1930. Nudes. "The Naked Maya" by Francisco Goya. Scott 308.
In 1930 the US government, through the U.S. Post Office Department, forbade and returned letters coming from Spain carrying this stamp because of the nudity that was at that time considered obscene

By the late 1930s, bathing suit manufacturers began taking advantage of new developments in fabric technology when Lastex and nylon, a quick-drying elasticized fabric, were developed. By 1934 the swimsuit hugged the body and was constructed to allow shoulder straps to be lowered for tanning. By the end of the decade, molded-fit suits were introduced, featuring the "nude look." The "panel suit" was also popular, retaining a a small skirt

Two piece suits weren't new. By the 1940s, two-piece bathing costumes are gaining in popularity but still conceal the belly button. Film stars including Ava Gardner, Rita Hayworth, and Lana Turner were photographed wearing the two-piece swimsuit. A gracefully draped or skirted bottom half was common attire for screen siren Esther Williams.

As part of wartime rationing, the U.S. Government, in 1943, ordered a 10 percent reduction in the fabric used in woman's swimwear. Off went the skirt panel, and out came the bare midriff. At beaches across the country, men paid special attention to women doing their patriotic duty.

However while Hollywood's Hays production codes allowed two-piece gowns they prohibited exposing the bellybutton on-screen. This meant the naval acquired a forbidden aura setting the stage for sensation.

Some fashion historians trace the thongs first public U.S. appearance to the 1939 World's Fair when New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia mandated that the city's nude dancers cover themselves but Brazil is given credit for popularizing the thong as a swimsuit. It may actually be humanity's earliest form of clothing.

In 1939, E. I. duPont de Nemours & Company developed a nylon called 6.6 polymer that revolutionized the manmade materials industry. In the years to come, other synthetic materials such as Dacron, Orlon, Lycra, and Spandex were invented and were used alone or blended to make swimsuits. During this period, textile manufacturers also began to experiment with woven patterns and bright colors.

40's: The French Riviera

the Bikini Atoll

ˌʌmˈbɪlɪkəsThe new swimsuit fashion was named after the excitement caused at the Bikini Atoll by the USA military tests on July 1 in the Marshall Island.
This was the site of a  nuclear weapon test called Operation Crossroads. On the reasoning that the burst of excitement would similar to the chain reaction to the nuclear device.

In 1946 two Frenchman formally introduced the concept of the bikini to the modern world. Jacques Heim and Louis Reard (ray-YARD) are credited with inventing the name bikini and  popularizing it. Reard's suit was a refinement of the work of Jacques Heim who, two months earlier, had introduced the "Atome" (named for its size) and advertised it as the world's "smallest bathing suit".


French engineer and fashion designer, Louis Reard  invents the 'bikini.' Officially, the first time the bikini appeared in a fashion event was at a poolside show at the Piscine Molitor in Paris on July 5, 1946.

Though Reard patented his version, fashion designer Jacques Heim claimed to be the first. Both were likely publicizing the trend at Cannes where women were sunning themselves in more and more abbreviated beach swimsuits. ” To trump Heim’s advertising of the Atome, Reard sent skywriters out above the French Riviera just three weeks after Heim, broadcasting the bikini as “smaller than the smallest bathing suit in the world.

Reard invented the name and pushed the envelope. He shrunk his suit down to 30 inches of fabric - basically a bra top and two inverted triangles of cloth connected by string - and put the navel on center stage. 

 Michelle Bernardini, 19, an exotic dancer is holding a small box into which the entire costume can be packed.

Reard'split the "atome"' even smaller, but could not find a model who would dare to wear his design. He ended up hiring Micheline Bernardini, a nude dancer from the Casino de Paris as his model.

Reard said the suit was smaller than the world's smallest bathing suit. How small was it? Well...Reard was quoted as saying..."It was so small that it revealed everything about the girl except her mother's maiden name!"

Reard's firm did it's part to fan the fantasies by proclaiming that a two piece wasn't a bikini "unless it could pulled through a wedding ring."

The world took notice. In Catholic countries - Spain, Portugal, and Italy - The bikini was banned. Decency leagues pressured Hollywood to keep it out of the movies. One writer said it's a "two piece bathing which reveals everything about a girl except for her mothers maiden name." Movie star Esther Williams who probably was seen in a two piece bathing suit by more people than anyone in the world, once said: "A bikini is a thoughtless act".

1957: Bikini-clad Brigitte Bardot frolicking in Saint-Tropez and becoming a screen goddess in "And God Created Woman,"

In 1951 bikinis were banned from the Miss World Contest following the crowning of Miss Sweden in a bikini and subsequent protests with a number of countries threatening to withdraw. The Miss World Contest controversy likely had a lot to do with bikinis becoming all the rage in Europe; just saying no, usually backfires after all.

In the '50's Brigitte Bardot did wonders for business- But not in modest America. Here it remained an invitation to scandal. As recently as 1957, Modern Girl magazine sniffed, "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.”

 Q: What is the difference between erotic art and pornography?
A: lighting

"In Western culture the female nude, more than any other subject, represents "art". The framed image of a female body is an icon for Western culture."

 Lynda Nead - 1992 - Ar

The Female Nude: Art, Obscenity, and Sexuality - Google Books Result

Fine art, as we know, is respectable. Sex is not. The reclining nude is where they meet. One of the most fascinating of fine art's spectator sports is watching the rude removed from the nude.
In art, the admired nude male is upright and active. The horizontal male is a male at his weakest. In classical art, the male reclining nude appears in the form of a vanquished warrior and in western art as the crucified Christ held in his mother's arms or Samson shorn of his strength by the wily Delilah. ---Reclining Nude, by Lidia Guibert Ferrara and Frances Borzello, The Guardian November 2, 2002

Part II

 Bikini History 1970 to today
Brazil and the famed beaches of Rio de Janeiro takes the 60s slogan "Make Love Not War" and makes the woman a warrior against the patriarchal materialistic culture of war and power by an empowered  upright display of skin and movement.






1957: Jayne Mansfield with bevy of bikinied water bottles photograph by Allan Grant/Life Magazine
1960: Brian Hyland sings "Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini," triggering a bikini-buying spree among American teens. [click pic for Yoplait commercial @ youtube]
1962: Girl from Ipanema
Garota film poster:
1962: The Girl from Ipanema makes Ipanema a magic word for listeners.
Tall and tan and young and lovely the girl from Ipanema goes walking and when she passes each one she passes goes "Ahhh!" When she walks she's like a samba that swings so cool and sways so gently that when she passes each

the human body is beautiful and should be showcased, also sex is a natural thing, a beautiful thing...

 one she passes goes "Ahhh!" Oh, but he watches so sadly How can he tell her he loves her? Yes, he would give his heart gladly. But each day when she walks to the sea she looks straight ahead not at he.

1963: The bikini meets a challenge in the generous form of Annette Funicello. The ex-mouseketeer's "Beach Party," with singer Frankie Avalon, leads to six sequels, including the memorably titled "How to Stuff a Wild Bikini" (in 1966) Annette Funicello  was  not in a bikini exposing her naval, by personal request from Walt Disney himself .



In 1964 the two-piece became a fixture on dormitory walls around the country with Babette March's appearance on SI's first swimsuit cover photograph by J. Frederick Smith
1966: Actress Raquel Welch battles dinosaurs wearing a ragged two-piece in "One Million Years B.C."  The film catapults comely cavegirl Raquel Welch to stardom despite mixed reviews of the saggy screen saga. In 2008 fossils found in the Atapuerca hills, near Burgos, Spain were reliably dated to at least 1.1 million ago, and probably come from a female who was among the first ancient humans to inhabit Europe. The discovery also included primitive stone tools and animal bones with cut marks,
1969: Goldie Hawn makes her bikini and her all-over graffiti a regular feature on the TV series "Laugh-In.". On the show, she would often break out into high-pitched giggles in the middle of a joke, and deliver a polished performance a moment after. Noted equally for her chipper attitude as for her bikini and painted body, Hawn personified something of a 1960s "It" girl. One of her 3 kids is actress Kate Hudson.
1970s: Rio and St. Tropez produce the Tanga suit-- also called the Thong, the string bikini or "dental floss." The uncomfortable design becomes de rigeur for teen posters, muscle car magazines and boxing ring girls who announce the rounds.

 1983:As Princess Leia, Carrie Fisher makes the ornate gold bikini a fashionable fantasy in 1983's "Return of the Jedi,"  the most successful of the George Lucas trilogy.

In Return of the Jedi, it is revealed that she is the twin sister of Luke Skywalker, and thus the daughter of Darth Vader. Leia is raised with Winter, who becomes her handmaiden later on in life, as well as her children's nanny. At the age of 18, Leia becomes the youngest member of the Imperial Senate and becomes good friends with Senator Pooja Naberrie of Naboo, her maternal cousin. She also becomes one of the driving forces behind the Rebel Alliance, the New Republic and even later, the Galactic Alliance. She serves the Senate until Emperor Palpatine dissolves it.

Actress Halle Berry, as Jinx in the 20th James Bond feature "Die Another Day,"
Image:061113bondgirls andress.jpg

Berry is paying  homage to this iconic scene featuring Ursula Andress' as Honey Rider from 1962 Bond film "Dr. No" also wearing a hip holster holding a hunting knife. Rider is widely regarded as the first Bond Girl. with the novel, Rider is a very independent woman claiming to not need help from anyone. Resourceful and courageous, she states that she can defend herself against any hostile when she first meets Bond. According to Andress, “This bikini made me into success.” That white bikini has been described as a “defining moment in the sixties liberalization of screen eroticism”.

An even more iconic bikini role for Halle Berry was catwoman which enjoys growing cult status despite limited box office success. The catwoman archetype harkens back to the last high civilization which florified the woman's body more than 3,000 years ago: the Egyptians