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A brief history of the bikini

Was there a pun hiding there? How times have changed since the early part of the 20th century when it was seen as thoroughly indecent for a woman to show her belly button. Although women did wear two pieces as far back as the turn of the 20th century, the modern bikini as we know it today was invented in 1946 by French mechanical engineer Louis Réard and named after Bikini Island in the South Pacific. Louis Réard's bikini was different from the two pieces that came before it because it exposed women’s navels, which was quite a shocker in those days and it didn't go down at all well in most countries apart from France. Catholic countries banned it and most of the world recoiled in horror at the thought of exposed belly buttons. Slowly though, the risqué bikini gained acceptance as it was seen more and more in media of the western world. Let’s have a peek back through the last 65 years to see how trends have changed and then come full circle with this season's retro inspired collections…   1950s Bikinis Although the two piece bikini had been around for a few years, most women still wore one piece swimsuits at the start of the 1950s. Bikinis were still thought of as far too daring for the masses. Brigitte Bardot wore a bikini in the 1956 film 'And God Created Woman' which popularised it in her native France, but the rest of the world was still not prepared to expose their navels in public. Most bikinis seen in the 50s were modest, with high waisted pants that covered the belly button. 2 (8) 1960s Bikinis The swinging sixties was a much more liberal decade for women and this is when bikinis became widespread and acceptable, although they were still off limits in catholic countries at the start of the decade. The infamous bikini scene featuring Ursula Andress emerging from the sea in a white bikini in Dr. No propelled what was a risqué item into the mainstream and sales of bikinis went through the roof. 2 (9) 1970s Bikinis The 1970s was the decade when bikinis got a whole lot more sexy and revealing, with skimpy string bikinis and teeny bikini tops with maximum exposure. Farrah Fawcett in her high legged red swimsuit made one piece swimwear massive again, but bikinis never went out of fashion. This was also the decade that saw the first topless G string bikini, and the string style bikinis got smaller and smaller throughout the '70s and into the '80s.


Check out It's National Bikini Day as well.


2 (10) 1980s - 2014 Bikinis Since the 1980s, when it was all about high legs and less is more, right through to today, when pretty much anything goes when it comes to bikini trends and no one style is dominant,  bikinis have never lost their appeal. Can you imagine what the women of the 1940s would have made of the super skimpy thongs of the 1980s? I wonder what's next, will there be a major new invention in the world of the two-piece swimsuit? Doesn't look like it for now, as this season, more than ever, bikini designers are looking back over the last 60 years for inspiration.  The eclectic styles of our 2014 bikinis are definitely testament to that.   2 (11)

You might also be interested in Bring back the Victorian bathing machines

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