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July 05

Louis Reard in a bikini

Mosaics dating back thousands of years depict women in two-piece outfits akin to modern bikinis. Reard likely took a cue from these ancient garments.

Photo by Stephan Richter/Picture Post/IPC Magazines/Getty Images

1946: Less is More
Louis Reard introduces the bikini
An automobile engineer in his native country of France, Louis Reard also worked in his mother’s lingerie shop. He was competing with others to create the world’s tiniest swimsuit when he stitched together some pieces of cloth—totaling a mere 30 inches. He proudly debuted the “bikini,” which he named after Bikini Atoll, a tropical island in the Pacific.

At first, he had a hard time finding a woman willing to model the daring little number. But he did and then planned a big party to celebrate. At a pool in Paris, Reard’s model donned the bikini, and it was an instant hit, changing the future of swimwear fashion forever.
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