From ridicule to ubiquity, the bikini has come a long way over the past 65 years.
On July 5, 1946, French fashion designer Louis Réard hired an exotic dancer to sport his two-piece creation after the runway models he approached refused to wear it.
But despite provoking controversy - centering around everything from morality to skin cancer to liposuction - it is clear that the teenie weenie suit is here to stay.
To celebrate the 65th birthday of the bikini, put bikinis into famous art works - use bikinis in paintings or dress statues in bikinis.
Started: 7/7/2011 11:00
Ended: 7/10/2011 17:00
This gallery only contains our top 37 selections from its parent contest Bikini. All 34 contest pictures can be viewed here.
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This contest is fueled by the following news: The bikini is a ladies open bathing suit, which consists of two separate elements, one of which covers the chest and the other element, the groin and buttocks. There are various types of bikinis, which differ in shapes and sizes. It was introduced to replace the one piece swimsuit.
Till the mid 20th century, the bathing suit rules remained quite strict and the suits covered the majority of the body. The creator of modern bikinis is Parisian stylist Louis Reard, who "improvised" the model swimsuit "Atom", several months earlier created by Jacques Heim. The bikini was first shown to the public on July 5, 1946 by Micheline Bernardini, dancer of the "Casino de Paris". The new model swimsuit was named after Bikini Atoll, where four days before, the U.S. conducted nuclear tests. The advertisement slogan that accompanied the release of the new models, used a name that parallels between the previous model and nuclear disintegration: "Bikini - divided Atom!".
It took more than ten years before the bikini ceased to shock the public and was introduced into fashion. Brigitte Bardot contributed significantly towards the popularization of bikinis in the 1950's.
Costumes, which resemble a bikini, were worn by women in Ancient Rome for sports activities. A modern bikini example is the Women's official sports uniform to compete in beach volleyball, bodybuilding and athletic dances (samba, rumba, cha-cha-cha).
Artists from circus', music halls, cabaret and variety shows often perform in bikinis.
A "Bikini for tournaments" exists. They are purposely made of fabric that gets wet, made transparent or have water soluble fasteners.
Modifications of bikinis are also available:
Monokini - lightweight single-piece swimsuit;
Tankini - bikini set, in which a tank-top is used instead of a traditional top.
The name derives from "Bikini Atoll", where nuclear tests were conducted in 1946 and hence, the name of the swimsuit should be associated with an explosion. One more version (though incorrect) exists, according to which the name "bikini" originated from the fact that the swimsuit was designed in the shape of an archipelago "Bikini". In the local Micronesian dialect "bikini" means - "skunk".
Mankini - men's bikini (from man and bikini). An example of this is the yellow/green bathing suit made famous by Borat. The mankini gained popularity thanks to Sasha Baron Cohen and his film "Borat". The word "Mankini" was included in the new edition of Collins English Dictionary.
Before the appearance of the swimsuit:
It is not worth talking about the "bathing suit" in ancient, medieval, Renaissance and subsequent periods. In those days, people either swam nude or in their undergarments, not specifically suited for swimming.
Women in costumes, reminiscent of the modern bikini, were portrayed on frescoes at Pompeii and several other places of the Roman Empire but later this tradition was forgotten for centuries.
The ancient admiration of the naked body gave way to contempt and even the "killing" of the sinful flesh. However, swimming still remained a favorite pastime.
During the Louis XIV era, ladies and gentlemen bathed in their undergarments, which lead to confusion with the Spaniards - in Spain, it was unthinkable to see even the edge a womans legs, let alone contemplate a woman in a white soaked shirt.
In the 18th century, this trend continued - representatives of the aristocracy stepped into the waters in their wigs, caps and shirts. However, they bathed at home in their undergarments.
The appearance of swimsuits:
The first suits, specifically designed for swimming, started appearing at the end of the 18th century on the wave of the All-European fascination with the ideas of Rousseau, who called for a naturalness and closeness to nature.
The first separate women's swimsuits appeared in the 19th century. In England, during the Victorian era, men and women bathing together, even in special costumes, was condemned. To avoid this, the so-called bathing machine was invented, which protected the bathers from the public eye.
However, French customs were much more open-minded. A special striped skinny suit appeared for men in France.
By the beginning of the 20th century, the swimsuit became simpler and more democratic and most importantly - shorter. Frills disappeared and finally "bathing stockings" and other adaptations for "preserving virtues" faded into the past.
The men's swimsuit was the same everywhere - cotton striped tights (usually white and blue). During these years, the sport is catching and the passion influenced the style of swimwear.
20th century – the century of triumph for swimsuit:
In the 1920s, tanning became a fashion and hobby sports were a prerequisite for human development. Curvaceous, pallidness and lack of muscle were perceived as symptoms of disease. It was necessary to show-off the trained body.
Particularly then, the swimsuits started acquiring form, which is familiar to us – manufacturers started making them from knitted fabric since it holds its shape better.
In the 1930s, the same trend was observed: the development of mass sports and a passion for swimming, diving - all this contributed to the development and improvement of the swimsuit.
Till the middle of the 20th century, the swimsuit remained quite strict and covered the majority portion of the body.
The general liberalization in expressing the views in the postwar years led to the swimsuit becoming more free and open. Since the second half of the 20th century, bikinis gradually made their way into fashion.