swimsuit has been through a long and vast evolution, responding to changes in
politics, fabric technology, acceptance and style, and today, the bikini
remains an absolute staple in the modern woman’s wardrobe.
the 1900’s, beachwear for women consisted of heavyweight dresses and
petticoats, with women even sewing weights into the hems of their dresses to
avoid them riding up.
early 1900’s, women such as Australia’s Annette Kellerman began to create a
wave when single piece costumes became more formfitting and showed of the
curves of the female body.
Dupont introduces the first commercial version of nylon, which reduced the need
for zippers and closures.
In the 1940’s,
boundary-pushing fashion companies began to create a gap between the top and
bottom pieces of the women’s swimsuit, resulting in a bare midriff. WWII demanded
there be a reduction in the amount of fabric used in garments which further
spurred the widening of the bare midriff gap.
Louis Reard officially designed the ‘world’s smallest swimsuit’ in 1946, and
named it after the US nuclear test site Attoll, and was debuted by Frenchwoman
Micheline Bernardini in Paris, to both much praise and distain. This distain
went as far as to have the bikini banned from London, Belgium, Italy, Australia
and Spain, and publicly condemned by the Vatican.
however, popularity for the bikini and two-piece swimsuit expanded into popular
culture by Bridget Bardot, Ursula Andres (in James Bond, Dr. No) and the first
swimsuit edition in the 1964 Sports illustrated Magazine sent America and the
world into a bikini frenzy.
In the modern
day, swimsuits and bikinis come in all cuts, styles and high performance
fabrics. The bikini continues to be epitomous of beach culture. and even begins to blur the line between swimwear, underwear and
clothing. In cycles as happens with fashion, different cuts such as
high-waisted and retro, triangle, one piece, athletic, asymmetric cycle and
appear season after season in different colors and prints.