Did you know the first outfit that people recognised as swimsuits were made of wool? Yes, you read that right. Wool had a unique charm during beach outings in those days.
As the idea of spreading leisure time at the beach made its way in the society in mid-19th century, people started looking for bathing suits designed for leisurely swims. In the 1870s, swimsuits in North America involved corsets, bathing shoes and hose.
In 1907, the sleeveless one-piece became extremely popular after police arrested Australian professional swimmer Annette Kellermann for indecency when she wore that one-piece at Revere Beach north of Boston. The form-fitting styles came into existence around the 1930s with the development of new and stretchier synthetic fabrics. Women modelled two-piece outfits nearly identical to modern day styles in the film Fashions of 1934.
There was huge shortage of fabric during World War II and thus evolved the outfit with bare midriff to meet rationing regulations.The first bikini was designed by Louis Reard in 1946 and was first displayed by a nude dancer. Since then, models and actors have donned the ensemble at various occasion both on-screen and off-screen. Bikini was now a part of the culture. Reard decided to call the outfit a ‘bikini after the place for atomic bomb testing named Bikini Atoll.
The introduction of nylon and Lycra in the ‘60s made swimsuits tighter than ever. Everyone must have heard about the bikini icon. None other than Brigitte Bardot became an icon after wearing a bikini in the film Manina, The Girl in the Bikini. After the film, bikini became a part of the lyrics of hit songs as well. Brian Hyland released his hit song Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini.
The white bikini that sold for $61.5k in 2001 was worn by Ursula Andress in the film Dr No as she emerged from the sea. The bikini came in a badass look when Pam Grier wore it as a nurse-turned-drug-dealer-
The celebrities have been inspiring people to wear bikini since years now. Bo Derek’s bikini in 1979s 10 inspired more than a few women to don a gold two-piece. The films saw actresses in bikinis time and again. In Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Phoebe Cates emerged from a pool in an iconic red bikini. The spotlight was stolen by Carrie Fisher in a metal swimsuit with complementary shackles.
Bikini turned the tables in 1997 when the participants were allowed to wear bikini for the first time in 1997 during the Miss America Pageant’s 77 year history. In 2001, Britney Spears dressed in an embellished bikini with a yellow python in 2001 for her VMAs look. The Bond Girl Halle Berry also wore an amazing bikini in 2002. Model Ashley Graham graced the cover of Sports Illustrated in a strappy purple suit in 2016. From retro to bare, the bikini has been a favourite of many since many years.