The history of the bikini

Published on Monday 05 August 2019
The iconic two-piece made its remarkable debut on the French Riviera
The history of the bikini

If the bikini is a must-have today, it has not always been the case. From its daring Parisian debut to its consecration on a Cannes beach, Monaco Marine reflects on its rich history.


Paris, July 5, 1946: The Parisian high society meets at the highly-coveted Piscine Molitor during a show rewarding the prettiest swimmer. This date could have remained confidential, except for the fact that it marked the bikini's very first public outing. This provocative two-piece swimsuit is the work of engineer Louis Réard, who managed to free himself from the strict social conventions, as no swimsuit unveiled this much skin at the time. Micheline Bernardini, a dancer at the Casino de Paris, bravely volunteered to reveal herself in front of a scandalized crowd.




Vulgar, shocking, inappropriate: the bikini is far from unanimous. So much that it is forbidden on the beaches of thee Atlantic coast, although it remains allowed on the Mediterranean coast. Meanwhile, it makes headlines in the United States. Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield embody models of femininity by daring to show themselves wearing this daring two-piece.


In France, it takes a little more than ten years after the show at the Piscine Molitor for the bikini to be in the spotlight again. This time, a young starlet posing on the beach of the Carlton hotel is behind it — and she is no other than Brigitte Bardot, aged eighteen and freshly married to Roger Vadim. The actress attracts photographers, whose pictures are quickly spread all over the newspapers: it is even rumored that this appearance has allowed to complete the financing of Vadim’s cult movie, "And God created woman".





The bikini then becomes a true icon in the 1960s, especially on the beaches of Saint-Tropez and on the French Riviera. At the same time, it steals the spotlight several times on the big screen: the sculptural Ursula Andress sports it facing Sean Connery in "Dr. No", the unforgettable Romy Schneider wears it in "The Swimming Pool", as well as the ingenue Isabelle Adjani in "L’été meurtrier". These are all unquestionable evidence that the bikini has not aged in its seventy years of existence…





You can find our summer bikini selection by clicking on this link.