The Modern Two-Piece Bikini Was Introduced On This Day In 1946

Although there’s evidence a bikini-style garment was worn as early as 5,600 BC, the iconic Bikini swimsuit was officially unveiled on this day (July 5th) in 1946. In fact, July 5th is national bikini day – marking 73 years since its ‘unveiling’.

It all started when French mechanical engineer Louis Réard, who was running his mother’s lingerie business, noticed women in St. Tropez were rolling their swimsuits up to get a better tan. It also coincided with material rationing after world war II, where fashion houses were forced to use less fabric. Réard’s bikini featured four triangles made from 194 centimetres of fabric. The modern bikini made its first appearance at a poolside fashion show in Paris. Finding someone brave enough to model it at the press conference was nearly impossible, so Louis hired Micheline Bernardini, a 19-year-old exotic dancer.

Despite the initial publicity generated, the bikini didn’t sell well, so Louis Réard returned to the lingerie businessBikini’s didn’t didn’t become popular until the 1960s, when french sex symbol, Brigitte Bardot, was pictured wearing a bikini on a beach at Cannes Film Festival, and sales soared!

Image sources: Steve Boyton /

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