The Birth of the Bikini
Did you know today is the bikini’s 66th birthday? Well it is, so I decided to drop some knowledge on y’all courtesy of LIFE.com.
On July 5, 1946, less than a week after the United States detonated an atomic bomb above tiny Bikini Atoll in the South Pacific, a Frenchman named Louis Réard —an automobile engineer moonlighting as a fashion designer— introduced to the sunbathing public the world’s smallest swimsuit. Réard called his creation the bikini, a name inspired, he later said, by the sight of women rolling up their bathing suits in order to acquire a more complete tan.
When I think of iconic bikini images, this one (of Ursula Andress) always comes to mind:
Another Bond Girl in a white bikini:
Side note: I would kill for Halle Berry’s body. KILL.
More from LIFE.com:
Two-piece swimsuits had been around for decades before Réard came along. In fact, the concept was even far older than that; Greek urns and mosaics created more than 3,000 years ago depict women athletes wearing two-piece outfits. But Réard’s genius was to devise a garment, out of as little fabric as possible, that one could still legally wear in public. (He marketed his new fashion brilliantly, as well— pronouncing, for example, that a bathing suit wasn’t a true bikini unless both pieces could be pulled through a wedding ring.)
A wedding ring?! Oh, Lawd!