Friday, January 26, 2007

The Bikini

The bikini (bēkē`nē), or "hip-hugger”, panty is a style of brief that reaches to the hips, leaving the waist and belly exposed. Sides can be anything from a string to a thicker side panel; back coverage can vary with fashion or style. While the original bikini was a string bikini, "traditional" bikinis provides full coverage—a full brief with reduced belly coverage—perhaps for comfort and security.

"The difference between a two-piece and the bikini is that the bikini exposes the navel, which is the zone of contention," Bensimon says. "That's why it became really provocative."

Patterns for the bikini are reported back to 1600 BC wall paintings (Bellis)and bikini models are depicted on ancient mosaics dating back over 2000 years. "The first recorded use of bathing apparel in Greece around 300 B.C.", asserts Liz Heart. However, the story of the modern bikini is itself classic fashion capitalism:

With the increased interest in athlecticism of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, swim wear fashion changed beside all other fashions. In the 1930s young women wore two piece bathing suits. Sun worship and tanning, as well as youth pushing boundaries of taste, had women adjusting their beach wear to maximize exposure.

In 1946, while the United States was testing atomic bombs in the French Marshall Islands, on Bikini Atoll, Cannes couturier designer Jacques Heim created "Atome -- the world's smallest bathing suit"--proclaiming his innovation with skywriting on the world's largest billboard. Three weeks later, mechanical engineer Louis Reard (1897–1984)--who was running his mother's lingerie business at the time--countered with a second skywriter proclaiming "Bikini -- smaller than the smallest bathing suit in the world." Réard promoted his bathing suit by selling it in a matchbox and declared, “A bikini is not a bikini unless it can be pulled through a wedding ring.” Jacques Heim, swim wear innovator is pictured here.
However, it wasn't until the late 1950s, when actress Brigitte Bardot created a sensation by wearing a bikini in the 1958 film "And God Created Woman" that bikinis went mainstream. For her efforts Bardot became her emminence The Bikini Girl.

On 05 July 1996 the bikini celebrated its 50th anniversary. "In 2006, American women spent $8 billon on bikinis" reports

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