Like a fine wine, the bikini has been aging gracefully over the last 74 years. It actually debuted on this very day (July 5th) in 1946 by a designer who had previously been an Automotive engineer. Louis Réard left his automotive career for the opportunity to work with his mother on her lingerie business and after going through several failed patterns, finally created the smallest swimsuit the world has ever seen. He called it the “bikini,” in reference to the Bikini Atoll, the island where tiny atoms were being split, otherwise known as atomic bombs being tested.
And while you might think a lot of French women would have jumped at the chance to be the first to model his new fashion statement in a photo-shoot, in truth, his request was answered by mostly the sound of crickets. Except for one nineteen-year-old nude dancer by the name of Micheline Bernardini.
Bernardini was totally up for the new experience. But let’s be clear, there had been many women who had been photographed in a revealing swimsuit before, but none of them had the audacity to reveal their coveted umbilical scar (belly button). Not only was the world about to see a woman’s belly button outside of a nude dance hall, but this day also signified the midst of a huge global textile shortage and the French just being liberated from WWII. So there was much to be saved and savored all in this very same week.
Speaking of being savored, let the celebrations begin: