In 1964, the bikini made it to the cover of Sports Illustrated for the first time. The bikini pictured was a relatively modest, white swimsuit with brief-style bottoms and a bra-like top.
Inspired by the unique underwear fashion innovations of pop singers Madonna and Cyndi Lauper in the 1980s, bikini designers briefly experimented with boned and wired bustier tops and girdle-like sarong bottoms. The constricting nature of these bikinis, however, did not attain them widespread popularity.
In 1983, Carrie Fisher donned the now famous gold bikini in the third installment of the Star Wars saga “Return of the Jedi.” Interestingly, this film received the highest box office returns of any of the other members of George Lucas’ original trilogy.
Bikini sales dropped tremendously during the 1980s and early 1990s as the one-piece swimsuit experience a resurgence of popularity. In 1988, Louis Reard’s original bikini company was forced to close, as bikini sales plummeted to just 30% of the swimsuit market.
The sexy belted bikini that rocketed Ursula Andress to fame in the 1962 James Bond classic Dr. No was replicated with almost equal acclaim by Halle Berry in the 2002 James Bond feature Die Another Day.
The bikini became the official beach volleyball uniform for women when the Olympic Committee officially recognized the sport in 1993. American athletes Misty May and Kerri Walsh served to greatly widen the popularity of the sport, and its bikini uniform, with their stunning gold medal victory in the 2004 Olympic games.
Louis Reard’s original bikini consisted of only 30 square inches of fabric.
When Reard planned to showcase his swimsuit creation at a Paris fashion show, he was unable to find any Parisian models who would be seen in the skimpy garment. Finally, he hired Micheline Bernardini, a model who also worked as a nude dancer in a Paris nightclub to debut the bikini to the fashion world.
Only a few years after the introduction of the bikini in 1946, fashion designers began to create new innovations to keep their swimsuit a step above other swimsuits. Such innovations included a bikini constructed entirely of red hair, a bikini with propellers attached to the bra cups, and a bikini constructed solely of porcupine quills. Interestingly, these bikinis did not retain widespread popularity.
The bikini was originally shunned in many countries throughout the world and took quite some time to gain in popularity. In fact, the wearing of bikinis was actually banned at the 1951 Miss World pageant. It was believed that contestants wearing bikinis in the swimsuit competition would have an unfair advantage over their more modest competitors.
The release of the popular song, “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini” in 1960 rocketed the bikini swimsuit into a position of popular culture icon.
As society began to soften somewhat on the bikini in the 1960s, a number of beach-themed movies served to popularize the bikini among teenage girls. One such film employed the interesting, if somewhat odd, title “How to Stuff a Wild Bikini.”