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Photos: On this day – July 5, 1946 – the first bikini goes on sale

Posted Jul 05, 2013

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On this day – July 5, 1946 -The bikini went on sale after debuting during an outdoor fashion show at the Molitor Pool in Paris, France.

The modern bikini was introduced by French engineer Louis Réard and fashion designer Jacques Heim in Paris in 1946. Réard was a car engineer but by 1946 he was running his mother’s lingerie boutique near Les Folies Bergères in Paris. Heim was working on a new kind of beach costume. Réard could not find a model to wear his design. He ended up hiring Micheline Bernardini, a nude dancer from the Casino de Paris. It was introduced on July 5 at Piscine Molitor, a public pool in Paris.

Réard named his swimsuit the “bikini”, taking the name from the Bikini Atoll, one of a series of islands in the South Pacific where testing on the new atomic bomb was occurring that summer. Historians assume Reard termed his swimsuit the “bikini” because he believed its revealing style would create reactions among people similar to those created by America’s atomic bomb in Japan just one summer earlier.

Brigitte Bardot is recognized for popularizing bikini swimwear in early films such as Manina (Woman without a Veil, 1952), in her appearances at Cannes and in many photo shoots with Bardot identified as the original Cannes bathing beauty.

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