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The swimsuit and the bikini: a story that pours a lot of water

by ace
The swimsuit and the bikini: a story that pours a lot of water

The restrictions, obligations, taboos and so many questions to which women have always been subject have had a great influence on the evolution of women’s swimwear. From suits that almost entirely covered the body to the monokini, choosing what to wear by the sea has been a real saga for women with risky attempts, setbacks, glamour and a lot of creativity. That’s why the swimsuit and bikini are intrinsically linked to the history of liberation and female conquests. Today, everything is allowed and a simple trip to the beach proves to us that freedom flows to the taste of fashion trends and personal preferences.

In Portugal, a privileged coastline and a warm sun ask for a range of options when the time of year begins the bathing season. According to the Brand Calzedonia, in Portugal women wear more bikinis than swimwear, but confirms that in the last three years the swimsuit has been a trend, which is reflected in sales of this piece (in 2017, that brand registered an increase of 100% and, in 2018, a new increase of 51%). However, the bikini continues to dominate the choice in beachwear, according to the Italian brand with a strong presence in our country.

Athletes Helene Madison (right) of the United States of America and Williemijntje Den Ouden (left) of the Netherlands after the 100-year-long event at the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics. They were, respectively, in 1st and 2nd place in the race.

The swimsuit and the bikini: a story that pours a lot of water

Achievements in sport

The history of the Olympic Games may have begun in ancient Greece, but the first time women participated in this sporting event took place in Paris in 1900. There were 22 women and 975 men and were divided into five sports (at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, a record of female participation was broken in which 45% of the athletes were women). It was not until 1912 that female representatives had access to aquatic events (and only 16 years later would they have access to athletics and gymnastics). This led to the creating in 1913 of a two-piece swimsuit consisting of shorts and T-shirts to help athletes perform. The creator was Carl Jantzen. In the following decade, the sports swimsuits gained the form of minidress not to look so much like underwear and in the late 40s men and women had very similar competition swimsuits. In addition to the design, there were also developments in materials that allowed new experiences, such as the introduction of nylon by Speedo in 1956 and the arrival of elastane in the 1970s. Sport and fashion intersect, for example, in the Great Britain team for which fashion designer Stella McCartney, in partnership with Adidas, created the competition suits (including water sports suits) of Olympic athletes at the 2012 and 2016 Games.

Mosaic panel discovered in Sicily, adorned the floor of a villa and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, dating back to Ancient Rome at the end of the 4th century. In 1947 mechanical engineer Louis Réard created a two-piece swimsuit he called a bikini. In 1953, Brigitte Bardot was the sensation of the Cannes Film Festival for being photographed in a bikini on the beaches of the south of France and helped popularize this swimwear.

The bikini was born and “grew” in Europe

It was in Europe that the bikini was born during the Roman Empire. While the Greeks of Classical Antiquity exercised naked in the gymnasiums, the Romans decided to create special clothes for this activity, which were characterized by being greatly reduced. In Sicily, a mosaic panel (which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site) has been discovered on the floor of a villa dating back to Ancient Rome at the end of the 4th century, showing a number of women exercising and wearing pieces of clothing that resemble today’s bikinis.

Centuries later, Europe was the scene of World War II and among several restrictions that the populations suffered was tissue rationing. It is not known whether this had an influence or not, but in 1947, two years after the war ended, mechanical engineer Louis Réard, who in the 1930s inherited the Parisian swimwear store from his parents, created a two-piece swimsuit he called a bikini. The name was inspired by bikini atoll in the Pacific Ocean, where the first atomic bomb tests took place in 1946 because Réard believed its creation was going to be “explosive”. The bikini was presented in a parade held at the Molitor pool in Paris, and it was up to “exotic dancer” Micheline Bernardini to parade the scandalous creation for the time because the models refused to wear the two-piece that revealed the navel. Although the invention was not well accepted on the Mediterranean beaches of Catholic countries, there were thousands of fans who loved the idea. When, in 1953, Brigitte Bardot was the sensation of the Cannes Film Festival for being photographed in a bikini on the beaches of the south of France, the image of this beachwear gained a new life. The year before, the actress had starred in the film The Girl in a Bikini and ten years later BB returned to being a sensation in a bikini in the 1962 film A Very Private Affair.

Deborah Kerr with Burt Lancaster in The Film To Eternity (1953).

IMDB ©

Elizabeth Taylor in a white beachfront swimsuit in the film Suddenly Last Summer (1959).

© Getty Images

Joan Blackman (in a yellow swimsuit) and Elvis Presley in Blue Hawaii( 1961),

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Ursula Andress as Honey Ryder, the Bond Girl of Secret Agent 007, the first film in the Bond saga (1962).

IMDB ©

Sue Lyon in the film Lolita (1962).

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Two models with the monoquini created by Rudi Gernreich in 1964.

© Getty Images

Raquel Welch in The One Million Years Before Christ (1969).

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  In the last in the film 10 – A Woman in a Dream (1979).

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Angelina Jolie in the film Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – The Cradle of Life (2001).

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Halle Berry in the film 007 – Dies Another Day (2002).

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Demi Moore in Charlie's Angels – Maximum Power (2003).

IMDB ©

Deborah Kerr with Burt Lancaster in The Film To Eternity (1953).

The swimsuit and the bikini: a story that pours a lot of water

Cinema and its landmarks

In the early 1960s, through Hollywood, the swimsuit and bikini began to take a leading role in movie wardrobes and giving rise to iconic scenes. Elizabeth Taylor in a white seaside swimsuit in the film Suddenly Last Summer (1959) came to memorably. In the 1961 film Blue Hawaii, costume designer Edith Head created a sculptural yellow swimsuit for Joan Blackman to rival Elvis Presley’s popularity in a scene in which they starred together. In the 1969 film A Million Years Before Christ, Raquel Welch wore a fur bikini and became one of the reference images of the films of that time. There’s also the tropical bikini that Sue Lyon revealed in the 1962 film Lolita. That same year, Playboy published a bikini on the cover for the first time, but the boldness of a decade marked by feminist movements did not stop there. Two years later, Rudi Gernreich created the monoquine, successor to the bikini that would evolve into the triquin.

In 1962, Ursula Andress played Honey Ryder, the Bond Girl of Secret Agent 007, the first film in the Bond saga, and made history – both in film and fashion – by coming out of the water on a beach in Jamaica in a white bikini with a belt to hold a knife and before the dazzled look of Sean Connery. The actress explains that part of the fascination for her character is related to the fact that she marked the difference in the woman’s style of the time based on voluptuous forms and Andress had an athletic body. This bikini was auctioned at Christie’s in London for $61,500 in 2001. The following year, in 007 – Die Another Day, a tribute was paid to Ursula Andress and her bikini when Halle Berry also emerges from the water with a set similar to Andress’ but orange. But the impact wasn’t the same…

In the last year of the 1970s, the male erotic image exploded with the image of Bo Derek running on the beach in a flesh-tone swimsuit that simulated nudity in the film 10 – A Dream Woman. In 2001, Angelina Jolie dazzled in a black swimsuit in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – The Cradle of Life and two years after the bikini made her feel in Charlie’s Angels – Maximum Power, revealing the full physical shape of Demi Moore at the age of 41. Gone were the days when Deborah Kerr scandalized the world in 1953, not for wearing a closed swimsuit with petticoat that looked more like a very short dress, but for giving Burt Lancaster the hitherto longest kiss on the mouth of the 7th Art in To Eternity.The swimsuit and the bikini: a story that pours a lot of water

Farrah Fawcett’s 1976 poster (the year of the charlie’s angels series, which became an icon of the time. Carrie Fisher, in the role of Princess Leia in the Star Wars saga, in a costume from the film Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (1983). The cast of the series Marés Vivas.

Scorching red tones

In…

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