“L’atome” initially shocked

A few scraps of fabric, only slightly smaller than previous two-piece versions, shocked the world in 1946 when le bikini was first introduced in France in 1946. Wow. I wonder what it would take to shock our fashion sensibilities today?

The story of the bikini is interesting. Two different French designers independently created tiny swimsuits in the summer of 1946. The first, Jacques Heim, called his “l’atome” because of its dimunitive size. The second designer, Louis Reard, decided to name his creation after the Bikini Atoll since it was introduced just a few days after the U.S. began atomic testing, and he predicted the impact of this new fashion would be as significant as the new bomb! The new style was very slow to be adopted in the U.S., but by the mid-50’s was common on the French Riviera. Do you remember the song by Brian Hyland, “Itsy Bitsy, Teenie Weenie, Yellow Polka Dot Bikini”, released in the summer of 1960? It tells the story of a young girl afraid to show herself in a bikini at the beach – which was how most young American women felt at that time. One very famous Hollywood film of the era, Dr. No, showed Ursula Andress in a white bikini, but many film stars were sticking to the more modest two-piece suits.  By the mid-1960’s tho, most Americans had caught up with the rest of the world and  bikinis were common summer attire here as well.

That was your interesting (fashion) history lesson for the day, or at least a bit of trivia. I can still remember my first bikini, can you? Mine was a red floral print, and had a little “enhancement” added to the top. 🙂 Have you ever sewn a bikini? I made tons of one-piece workout swimsuits for my daughter when she was on swim team, but I don’t remember making bikinis for either of my girls. And since I am WAY past this style, I will not be wearing or making a bikini anytime soon. Or ever! 🙂

Happy sewing!

Maris Olsen

One Response to “L’atome” initially shocked

  1. Jane says:

    Thanks for the history lesson! I think I had a bikini once but never felt comfortable in it. Frankly, I think you should have a good body to wear one, but most of the world doesn’t agree as evidenced by an afternoon spent at the beach!

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