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National Bikini Day: 15 surprising fun facts about the Bikini!

National Bikini Day: 15 surprising fun facts about the Bikini!
/ Peter Cade / Stone / Getty Images

Today marks National Bikini Day and the 75th anniversary of the invention of the revealing two-piece bathing suit. To celebrate (we use that term loosely), we’ve compiled a list of fun facts about the two-piece suit.

Did you know…

The modern bikini was first revealed to the world on July 5, 1946, and created by French car engineer Louis Réard. It was actually named after the hydrogen bomb testing site Bikini Atoll, located in the South Pacific. Réard coined the term stating the design of the two-piece swimsuit was so scandalous, it was as shocking as the nuclear tests.

The first woman to ever model a bikini was Micheline Bernardini. Réard hired her after every model he approached turned him down because the design being too revealing.

Just a few months before Réard launched his version of the bikini, another French designer, Jacques Heim, unveiled a similar two-piece ensemble he called the Atome. Heim's swimsuit was self-described as "the world's smallest bathing suit," though it still covered more than Reard had to offer. Eventually, the Atome faded out, and the bikini became a runaway success.

Due to its revealing design, the bikini was considered controversial, facing opposition from a few groups and being accepted only very slowly by the public.

While the bikini was introduced to the world in the late 1940s, it wasn't until 1957 that it went mainstream thanks to French actress Brigitte Bardot who appeared at Cannes Film Festival in a floral two-piece.

Even though the bikini found mainstream success in the late ’50s, Playboy didn't put a bikini on its cover until 1962.

In many countries, the design was banned from beaches and other public places, but despite the backlash, the bikini still sold well throughout the early to later 20th century.

The infamous white bikini that Ursula Andress wore in 1962's Dr. No sold for more than $50,000.

The first-ever Miss World pageant took place in the summer of 1951 and the winner, Sweden's Kiki Hakansson, became the only Miss World to have ever been crowded in a bikini. And in 2014, the Miss World pageant dropped the swimsuit segment altogether.

The largest-selling swimwear company globally is Speedo, which caters to both men and women, which is nearly 100 years old.

The most expensive bikini in the world is made of diamonds. It was created specifically for Sports Illustrated and designed by jeweler Susan Rosen. The two-piece is made of over 150 carats of flawless diamonds set in Platinum, and it is valued at more than $30 million.

Bikinis are the official dress code for female Olympic beach volleyball players and have been ever since the sport was introduced into the Olympics in 1996.

In 2011, Brooklyn-based designer Andrew Schneider created a Solar Bikini.

Raquel Welch wore a fur bikini in the film, One Million Years B.C. (1966) that made her an instant pin-up girl and a fashion icon. The photo of her in the bikini quickly became a best-selling pinup poster.

In the 1983 film Return of the Jedi, Princess Leia (played by Carrie Fisher) wears a metal bikini, a slave girl costume often imitated by female fans at Star Wars conventions. The costume made of brass was so uncomfortable that actress Carrie Fisher described it as "what supermodels will eventually wear in the seventh ring of hell."

"Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini", a single written by Paul Vance and Lee Pockriss, has become a part of bikini history. Released on August 8, 1960, it was also the first pop song about the swimsuit.

MStudioImages / E+ / Getty Images

Source: MStudioImages / E+ / Getty Images

75 years later, there is now a wide range of distinct bikini styles available:

  • string bikinis
  • monokinis (topless or top and bottom connected)
  • trikinis (three pieces instead of two)
  • tankinis (tank top, bikini bottom)
  • camikinis (camisole top, bikini bottom)
  • bandeaukini (bandeau top, bikini bottom)
  • skirtini (bikini top, skirt bottom)
  • "granny bikini" (bikini top, boy shorts bottom)
  • hikinis (also hipkini)
  • seekinis (transparent)
  • minikinis, microkinis, miniminis, slingshots (or suspender bikinis)
  • thong bottoms
  • tie-sides (a variety of string bikini)
  • teardrops
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