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The History of Bikinis

This now-ubiquitous women’s swimsuit was created by French designer Louis Réard in 1946. It was first worn by Micheline Bernardini, who was hired by Réard to model the swimsuit for the media during an event at the Piscine Molitor in Paris on July 5, 1946. Réard reportedly named the bikini for the atomic bomb tests that took place in the Bikini Atoll; he said he hoped the swimsuit would be “small and devastating” like the atomic bomb. Stars like Brigitte Bardot, Raquel Welch, and Ursula Andress helped popularize the bikini outside of France during the 1960s, and Réard himself continued to sell bikinis at his swimsuit shop in Paris for forty years after the swimsuit’s initial debut.

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