Bikini Story (Temporis Series)
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It was in 1946 that the world first came to hear of a coral atoll in the Marshall Islands called Bikini. The following year, French couturier Louis Réard borrowed the name and applied it to a bathing costume for women. Breaking from decades of conformity, Réard dared to ‘undress’ women’s bodies in order to better emphasize what remained clothed - albeit in tiny wisps of material. By taking up the bikini as popular beachwear, women also found themselves thinking differently about their bodies. An ideal of perfection was reinforced by the appearance on the cinema screen of stars such as Marilyn Monroe, Brigitte Bardot and Ursula Andress, all of whom were featured in bikinis that accentuated their own curvaceous contours.
More than a bathing costume, the bikini made its own contribution during the 1970s to the sexual revolution and to the changing relationship between men and women in general. This book investigates the history of the bikini and its effect on the evolution in the perception of women in society, as women regained responsibility for the way they look and laid claim once more to full sexual equality. A collection of images throughout this book illustrates this progression step-by-step over a period of more than 50 years.
bikini’s reputation were. After all, those same magazines in which readers might admire the stately dresses of princesses and other aristocrats also published sensationalized reports on the “true origins” of “the smallest swimsuit in the world.” They featured pictures of the Villa Romana del Casale in the Piazza Armerina, in Sicily, and its mosaics of the third or fourth century which showed Roman athletes in a costume not unlike a bikini. Two women play with a ball. They wear brownish two-piece
actually made. The two-piece costumes of the 1930s in many ways recall women’s underclothing meant to enhance the body shape, as was the fashion right up until the 1960s. The base corresponds to close-fitting bathingtrunks descending from the navel to one-third of the way down the thighs. Possibly just daring, sexy it definitely is not. The top, which came to rely more and more on braces or suspenders, was designed principally to permit sun tanning of the shoulders and the arms. But for the
controlled reports and advertisements in the newspapers. From our own contemporary viewpoint, Communist publicity could not help but be something of a parody of what it should have been. It merely turned to imitate whichever way the wind was blowing in the West, without any reliance on a socialist economy planned or unplanned. An East German advertisement of 1971 for “Beach fashion for Her and for Him” demonstrates precisely this kind of propaganda concerning consumer goods. TS Bikini 4C.qxp
8/1/2011 12:00 PM Page 59 The American movie actress Rita Hayworth (1918-1987) sunbathing on the grass in a two-piece costume and shoes. This photo of her was published in the 1940s, but her movie career began in 1935. Prior to that she had worked on and off as a dancer. The American movie actress Barbara Stanwyck (1907-1990) on the diving-board of a swimming pool on August 1, 1946. With her bikini, she is wearing jewellery and shoes. The bikini base is decorated with buttons down the left
back. Bikini Madness It was perfectly possible to earn money by showing off one’s skin without contravening contemporary codes of Western morality. During the “bikini madness” of the 1950s, various film producers regarded the bikini as an unbeatable gimmick, and almost flooded the cinemas with the most outlandish movie absurdities to feature it, starring such luminaries as Brigitte Bardot and Marilyn Monroe. Titles included Bikini Beach and It’s a Bikini World, with offshoots such as Muscle