Anyone who has met me for all of five minutes is well-aware that I harbour somewhat of a swimwear obsession. I can’t step into a shop without looking at some, trying some, or just wanting some. I know all there is to know about where to get them, what fits best and how to snag the best deals. My years of serious bikini ‘research’ have brought some funny details to the fore. These include the fact that the first bikini was invented by a French Engineer and that we can actually thank World War II fabric rationing for the current trends in skimpy swimsuits. Here are 20 more of these factual gems you’ve been living without just fine.
1. The dissolvable bikini exists. It’s made from a material that completely melts away after a few seconds in water leaving the wearer blushing and nude.
2. Even the one-piece was once considered too risqué to be worn in public. Australian swimmer Annette Kellerman was arrested on Revere beach near Boston, Massachusetts for indecent exposure for wearing a one-piece bathing suit in public in 1907.
3. The world’s most expensive bikini (made purely out of diamonds darling) will set you back $30 million courtesy of Susan Rosen and Steinmetz Diamonds. Yes, $30 million.
4. The first modern bikini was modelled on the 5th of July 1946 at the Piscine Molitor. It was designed by Frenchman Louis Réard who was unable to find a Parisian model to wear the risqué design and eventually hired Casino de Paris nude dancer Micheline Bernardini to pose in the outfit. Indeed, the world’s first bikini model was an exotic dancer. He hoped the outfit, which was “smaller than the world’s smallest swimsuit”, would have an explosive arrival and as such named it after the nuclear tests at Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands. July 5TH is now regarded internationally as Bikini Day.
5. 1969 was the year the word ‘bikini’ was added to the dictionary.
6. Female swimmers on European beaches in the 1890s were required to prepare in swimming cabins, a dressing room on wheels, which would be carted into the water (what?). The decency and modesty laws of the day forced women to wear cumbersome, layered outfits, which restricted movement. To prevent showing off their legs, women would also sew weights into the hems of their swimming garments. So glad that’s over.
7. In the 1930s, movie stars were banned from showing their belly buttons on screen due to The Motion Picture Production code also known as The Hays Code. Consequently, bikinis worn on screen were high waisted.
8. Two Piece bikinis were banned in many countries as they were deemed as sinful.
9. The word thong is Old English for “flexible leather cord”.
10. The “G” in G-string stands for “groin”. They first appeared on the beaches of Brazil.
11. The first ever Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition was launched in January 1964 with Babette March on the Cover.
12. Miss Sweden Kerstin ‘Kiki’ Haakonson, is the only Miss World winner to be crowned while wearing a bikini, back in 1951.
13. In 1994, The International Volleyball Federation made the bikini the official uniform of women’s beach volleyball. It was announced in 2012 that they would subsequently allow alternate clothing options for women who didn’t want to wear bikinis (though many teams stuck with theirs).
14. Thong bikinis were made illegal in in Melbourne, Florida in January 2005. Thong wearers risk a $500 fine or 60 days in jail.
Photo: Simply Beach
15. The first Barbie ever made her debut in a striped black and white swimsuit back in 1959.
16. The term “swimming suit” was created by the swimwear brand Jantzen. It was changed from “bathing suit” in 1921 to substantiate their increasingly daring designs as athletic wear.
17. Reality TV star Bobby Norris attempted to start a trend in Men’s Swimwear by wearing a one-sided half thong on The Only Way is Essex in 2014. This trend thankfully, was left right there.
18. There are two women who wear bikinis 365 days a year professionally. Natasha Oakley and Devin Brugman have converted their bikini love into magazine covers, global fame and a million Dollar business, A Bikini A Day.
Photo: A Bikini A Day
19. It was Wold War II fabric rationings which prompted women to start wearing swimsuits that revealed a sliver of skin at the waist.
20. There are more than 900 brands, which sell swimwear all around the world.