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Happy Birthday Bikini! Take a Look Back at 70 Years of Skimpy Swimwear


The bikini is celebrating its 70th birthday and the fashionable summer beachwear has certainly evolved over the years.

The idea of the bikini is believed to date as far back as 1400 B.C., when women in Greece wore two-piece garments for athletic purposes.

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The name and design of the modern bikini came from Parisian engineer Louis Reard in the mid-40s. He named the two-piece design after the Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands, where the atomic bomb was being tested.

Reard hoped his swimsuit invention would be as explosive as the nuclear bomb.

The design made its debut at a Paris fashion show and caused controversy right away.

The French models slated to display the swimwear refused to put it on. A stripper was later hired to model the attire.

Fashion expert Dawn Del Russo told Inside Edition: “The reaction was shocking, no one believed this would take off. They couldn't believe so much skin was actually showing.”

The bikini was declared “sinful” by the Vatican and banned by worldwide beauty pageants as well as the beaches of England, Italy, Spain and Australia.

In 1947, it arrived in American pop culture when Marilyn Monroe dared to wear a red and white striped two-piece in an iconic photoshoot.

During the 1953 Cannes Film Festival, actress Bridget Bardot caused an international sensation wearing one on the French Rivera. Soon, the barely-there swimwear became acceptable on beaches around the world.

By the early 60s, the Bond girls that brought it to life on the silver screen, most notably Ursula Andress in Dr. No.

Del Russo said: “They were the girls everyone wanted to be and if she was in a bikini and coming out of the water looking sexy, I wanted it too."

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By the mid-60s, Sports Illustrated had introduced their now infamous Swimsuit issue. For more than 50 years, bikini clad beauties have graced the cover.

Current cover model Ashley Graham proves curves look great in a bikini.

Now, bikinis are everywhere and for women of all ages. Oscar Winner Helen Mirren was famously photographed wearing one showing her toned body.

“She really opened the door for women, no matter what age, to feel confident wearing a bikini,” Del Russo said.

Watch: How to Pick Out the Best Bikini for Your Body Type this Summer

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