It’s hard to imagine what beaches would look like without the scantily clad. Skin and minimal clothing are inescapably associated with the visual landscape of any publically accessible shoreline. But before the advent and widespread adoption of the bikini, there were things like the bathing machine, which was a wooden hut atop a tumbrel that would transport women directly into the ocean, probably as to avoid wanton gazes or character judgments (despite the swimwear being nowhere near as revealing as its successors.) The now-absurd bathing machine was used at around the turn of the century, but even 40 years after, when the first “bikini” (not yet dubbed that name) was designed and donned, it met an almost unanimously unwelcoming reception. Here’s a quick rundown on bikini history.
Tumult in bikini history
No one embraced it. Models refused to wear it. The notion of generously covering up while at the beach was still well kept in the 1940s. But French designer Louis Reard further provoked the public and made international headlines with his would-be licentious two-piece swimsuit by naming it le bikini, in response to the US’ nuclear bomb testing in the Bikini Atoll, four days prior to Reard’s release.
With the rise of private pools though, women were able to try out the bikini, worry free. And soon after that, bikini-wear was seen everywhere. It became the norm to wear one and even uptight not to. The 1962 Bond film Dr. No showed off actor Ursela Andress in sparing two-piece splendor.
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