This year, the bikini turns 70 years old. How can it be that old?! And love it or hate it, the iconic swimsuit isn’t not going anywhere anytime soon.
The bikini’s invention is credited to French engineer Louis Reard. When he went to the beach, he noticed women trying to get a better tan by adjusting their suits. Sensing a hole in the market, he designed the first bikini out of 30 square inches of fabric in 1946.
Though the bikini took some time to catch on with the average consumer, it caught fire on film in the 1960s. The decade featured some instantly iconic bikini moments, ensuring that the garment had earned its place in fashion and film history.
One of the first to appear was in 1962’s James Bond film “Dr. No.” Ursula Andress, playing shell diver Honey Ryder, appears from the ocean clad in a white bikini. Bikini sales rose after audiences saw the movie, and the bikini was later auctioned off for $61.5K in 2001.
After that head-turning debut, bikinis became a wardrobe staple of the beach party genre, starting with 1963’s “Beach Party” with Annette Funicello. In 1966’s “One Million Years B.C.,” actress Raquel Welch rocked a deerskin bikini.
But why were bikinis taking off during the 1960s? There are a few reasons. One is that women’s dress standards had somewhat relaxed due to the sexual revolution. While a woman might’ve felt a bikini was too revealing in the 1950s, many women grew comfortable showing their bodies (up to a point) in the 1960s.
Though the bikini gained popularity a good 15 years after its debut, the classic women’s swimwear item shows no signs of slowing down in the near or distant future.