The Two-Piece Bikini Was Invented On This Day In History: July 5

With summer in full swing, many people are traveling to the beach, public pools, or cooling off in their own backyards. Many of those people are wearing two-piece bikinis, an invention that has only been around since 1946.

The two-piece bikini is the brainchild of French designer Louis Reard. The famed designer unveiled his newest creation on July 5, 1946, at the famed Piscine Molitor, a swimming pool in Paris.

Louis Reard with Bikini
Getty Images

Modeled by Micheline Bernardini, an exotic dancer who was brave enough to show off the scandalous design, the “bikini” was given its name after the U.S. atomic bomb test that took place off the Bikini Atoll earlier that same week.

Inspired By A Fashion Trend From the 1930s

The first attempt at what would become the bikini was a trend in the 1930s in which women showed just a tiny bit of their midriff by wearing a halter top with shorts.

Reard’s first foray into the bikini market featured scandalous, at least for the time, 30 inches of fabric that essentially amounted to a bra alongside a bottom which featured two upside down pieces of triangle shaped fabric that were connected by a string.

While popular in the Meditteranean for decades, the United States didn’t bring the fashion design to the mainstream until it was popularized by the Brian Hyland song, “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka-Dot Bikini” along with a slew of beach blanket movies that were popular among teens.