The Explosive Origins of the Bikini
Today, it might seem in poor taste for a clothing designer to name his creation after a center of nuclear destruction. But back when the modern bikini was created, it was actually quite common to get inspiration from the trendy new world of nuclear physics. For example, another (only slightly larger) two-piece swimsuit unveiled at the same time was dubbed the "Atome" (leading to jokes about how the tiny bikini split the atom). And while designer Louis Réard's predictions that the swimsuit would shock the fashion world did come true -- countries with religious traditions threatened to withdraw from the 1952 Miss World contest when the first winner was crowned in a bikini, and the Pope even condemned the crowning as "sinful" -- his creation wasn't the first revealing two-piece women ever wore. In the 3rd-century Villa Romana Del Casale in Rome, a mosaic shows women wearing garments that look startlingly like modern bandeau-style bathing suits while they exercise.
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Key Facts In This Video
The inventor of the modern bikini wanted the swimsuit to make a big impact like the atomic bomb, so he named it after Bikini Atoll, where the US tested nuclear bombs. (0:05)
Before Queen Victoria's wedding, white was traditionally worn for mourning. (0:26)
Former New York City mayor Fiornello LaGuardia ordered nude dancers to show less skin, leading to the advent of the thong. (1:23)