You wouldn’t think there’s much more to women’s swimwear than meets the eye. After all, when it comes well-loved two piece swimwear, there’s not much to meet the eye in the first place. But there are some surprising facts about fashion of those beach-crucial bikinis and that salacious swimwear.
You probably thought bikinis were fairly recent, since you can’t really imagine Elizabeth I or Marie Curie in one. But bikinis, or bikini-like clothing, has been around much longer than expected. They’ve been found on wall paintings dating all the way back to 1600BC.
Off the Rails – Swimwear Rose to Faim
If you were asked for reasons why swimwear rose to fame, you’d never guess this one. The railroad.Wait! Pause for thought before you log off, fed up with all the nonsense on the Internet. The 19th-century expansion of the railroad meant more seaside holidays – so interest in swimwear fashion increased.
Swimwear Controversy in the Early 20th Century
It comes as no surprise that swimwear has seen its fair share of controversy. It’s widely spouted that the Victorians covered piano legs for decency’s sake, so you can imagine what they’d think of swimsuit models. But most prudish of all was an event in Coney Island, New York in 1919. A woman was detained for wearing swimwear (at the time, this included wearing stockings) under her clothes. Again in 1907, Australian swimmer Annette Kellerman (1887- 1975) was arrested for indecent exposure when she wore a one-piece suit in Boston that revealed her arms and legs.
Coco Chanel invented tanning! Alright, that’s a slight exaggeration. But it was the queen of fashion design herself who, in the 1920s, popularised the bronzed look that sets off bikinis so nicely. After getting sunburnt on holiday in the French Riviera, Chanel accidentally became a tanned trendsetter in Paris.
Explosive Swimwear in the 40’s
Unsurprisingly, two men are hailed as the inventors of bikinis. In 1946 Jacques Heim designed some two piece swimwear that he named the “Atome” (i.e. because it was teeny-weeny). A few months later, Louis Réard created something similar called the Bikini Atoll – after a place in the Marshall Islands where atomic bombs had been tested. No doubt he expected an explosive reaction from the prissy public.
Celebrity Swimwear in the 60’s
The most celebrated bikini moments of all the time at the cinema were when the actress Bo Derek ran down the beach wearing a nude swimsuit in the movie 10 and when the actress Ursula Andress emerged from the water wearing a white bikini in the Bond film in 1962.
Swimwear Fashion in the Recent Times
Today swimwear is much more than a functional piece of clothing, it is a style statement and an essential part of our wardrobe.