On July 5, 1946, the bikini bathing suit was introduced at a popular Paris swimming pool by French designer Louis Réard. In honor of National Bikini Day, here are 5 things you didn't know about this skimpy two-piece swimsuit...
It Was Named After a Nuclear Test Site Réard was expecting his creation to cause a stir especially with the conservative public of the 1940s. Hoping that his new swimsuit would be as explosive as an atomic bomb, he named it “bikini” after the Bikini Atoll, a place somewhere in the Pacific Ocean that was used by the Americans for nuclear tests.
The First Bikini Model Was a French Stripper.
Because of the raunchiness of “le bikini,” no model in Paris dared to wear it. Réard was left with no choice but to hire Micheline Bernardini, an 18-year-old exotic dancer to model his creation. On July 1946, Réard unveiled the bikini to the press in a public pool in Paris. As the swimwear made the headlines, Bernardini became an instant celebrity. In fact, she received 50,000 fan mail letters—from men, mostly—after the launch.
It Was Very Controversial The bikini was so scandalous that it was banned in countries like Italy, Portugal, and Spain. Even the Americans were appalled by it for many years, with Modern Girl magazine saying “it is inconceivable that any girl with tact and decency would ever wear such a thing.” Some women were also denied entry to the beach for wearing bikinis. And if that wasn’t enough, during the very first Miss World pageant in 1951, some countries threatened to withdraw delegates when the winner, Kiki Hakansson of Sweden, was crowned in her bikini. Not surprisingly, the Pope condemned Hakansson, claiming that the two-piece swimsuit was sinful.
Several Places Still Ban Wearing Bikinis Today Although most countries have since lifted those early bans on the bikini, some cities around the world still ban the provocative piece. Such places include Hvar, Croatia, where you can get fined for walking the streets in a swimsuit; the Maldives, where most public beaches are for one-piece suits only; and Ras al-Khaimah in United Arab Emirates, where swimwear is banned entirely.
The Most Expensive Bikini in The World Will Cost You $30 Million
The most expensive bikini in the world was created specifically for Sports Illustrated and Molly Sims in 2012. Designed by jeweler Susan Rosen, the two-piece is made of over 150 carats of flawless diamonds set in Platinum, and it is valued at more than $30 million.