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7 facts you probably didn't know about a bikini

Last updated on: July 05, 2014 15:26 IST

7 facts you probably didn't know about a bikini

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On July 5, 1946, Louis Reard presented his daring creation that has caught everyone's fancy ever since.

As the modern bikini turns 68 this month, here's some bikini trivia you'd enjoy reading ;-)

Have you seen our Glamour section yet? You should! Right here!

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Image: Models pose at a photocall to celebrate National Bikini Day at Golden Square on July 3 in London, England.
Photographs: Anthony Harvey/Getty Images

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1. It was NOT introduced by a fashion designer!

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Louis Reard who introduced the design into modern western civilisation was an automobile engineer who had taken over his mother's lingerie business in Paris.

The idea to create a two-piece bikini came to him when he saw women on the beaches of St Tropez beaches rolling up their swimsuits to get a better tan.

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Image: A tourist walks on Paradise Beach in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Photographs: Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters

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2. It has been named after a place!

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As strange as it may sound, it is indeed true.

It takes the name from the Bikini Atoll, part of the Marshall Islands, in the Pacific Ocean where the US had conducted its first nuclear weapons testing on July 1, 1946.

Reard introduced his garment exactly four days later -- on July 5 -- and named it in the hope that it would create an 'explosive commercial and cultural reaction', not unlike the explosion at Bikini Atoll.

More than six decades have passed since then and Reard, we suppose, wasn't entirely off the mark with his hopes.

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Image: Three women model bikinis in a London high street. (Picture used here for representational purpose only.)
Photographs: Evening Standard/Getty Images

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3. No fashion model wanted to wear it

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Since he couldn't find a model to sport it before the cameras, Reard simply hired a nude dancer who happily presented it for him.

That is the lady in the picture -- Micheline Bernardini.

Reard claimed that the bikini was so small it could fit into a two-by-two inches large box that the model is holding in the photograph.

Have you seen our Glamour section yet? You should! Right here!

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Image: Micheline Bernardini modelling the first modern bikini.
Photographs: Getty Images

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4. It isn't a modern invention

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Women athletes wearing bikini-like garments have been depicted in paintings dating back to 1400 BC

This one is from Villa Romana del Casale in Sicily is one of the earliest discovered illustrations of the garment.

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Photographs: Wikimedia Creative Commons

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5. It was banned in several Western countries

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When the Vatican called it sinful, the bikini was banned in several countries including Spain, Portugal, Italy, Belgium and Australia.

It was also prohibited in several American states.

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Image: A nun takes pictures of bathers before the arrival of Pope Francis on Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro in July last year.
Photographs: Ricardo Moraes/Reuters

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6. Miss World started as Festival Bikini Contest

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And it was supposed to be a one-off event in 1951.

The media seemed to love the idea and referred to as Miss World.

Eric Morley, the organiser, registered it as a trademark and thus began the contest that has given us the likes of Aishwarya Rai and Priyanka Chopra among others.

Have you seen our Glamour section yet? You should! Right here!

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Image: Contestant Stephanie Lim walks down the stage during the Grand Finale of Miss Malaysia World 2013.
Photographs: Rahman Roslan/Getty Images

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7. Cannes has her to thank

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Brigitte Bardot's photograph wearing a bikini on the beach in Cannes during the 1953 Cannes Film Festival not only helped garner publicity for the festival but also helped boos her own career.

The picture, according to The Guardian, also made Saint-Tropez into the bikini capital of the world.

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Image: A file picture of Brigitte Bardot looking at her reflection in a mirror, while standing in the waters of Lake Leman.
Photographs: Getty Images

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8. It was the official uniform for of women's Olympic beach volleyball

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This was thanks to the good folks at the International Volleyball Federation.

The move came in 1994 and received mixed response.

While some believed it was exploitative, others felt it was a practical choice.

However in 2012, the Federation dropped its bikini mandate after coming under pressure from conservative nations.

Have you seen our Glamour section yet? You should! Right here!


Image: Ilka Semmler of Germany dives for the ball during day two of the FIVB Stavanger Grand Slam at Stavanger Vage, Stavanger, Norway.
Photographs: Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images

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