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Sunday, September 15, 2013

BIKINI is the name of an atoll

Or is it?

It's interesting, you know ... you can hit "google images," and type in "bikini" and get thousands of pictures of tiny scraps of cloth semi-wrapped about boobs of varying sizes.

But, if you want a picture of the atoll where tests of atomic bombs were carried out, you have to add "island" or "atoll" to the search phrase.

It's a mystery ...  a mystery with a fascinating answer.

When the string bikini was launched in 1946, it became an instant sensation. Katya Foreman explains in the BBC magazine how the tiny garment became a design icon. 

"Who would have thought that the name of a remote Pacific atoll, site of atom bomb testing in the late 1940s, could have become wedded in the public mind to one of the sexiest and most enduring clothing items of the summer? Marking an atypical career trajectory, French mechanical engineer-turned bikini designer, Louis Réard, known as the godfather of the garment’s modern-day incarnation, is said to have come up with the moniker in a wink to its tiny size yet explosive impact, with the term ‘bombshell’ adopted as a popular reference for the ladies in these revealing swimsuits.

"The story goes that Réard, who had taken over his parents’ lingerie business in Paris, entered into competition with fashion designer Jacques Heim to produce the world’s smallest two-piece, having observed women on the beaches in Saint-Tropez rolling up the edges of their swimsuit bottoms while tanning. (The first functional two-piece is said to have been invented by swimwear designer Carl Jantzen in 1913).

"Harnessing his technical skills to reduce the proportions and fabric of the fledgling two-piece, in 1946 Réard launched the string bikini, honed from four triangles of fabric and fastened with spaghetti ties. He recruited a nude dancer from the Casino de Paris to model the creation, causing a cultural explosion. For the first time, radically, bikini bottoms dropped below the navel.

"Réard’s skimpy design cut a stark contrast to the cumbersome tunics and bloomers worn by women at the beach only decades earlier. The shrewd marketer’s less-is-more advertising campaigns for the creation claimed that a two-piece bathing suit wasn’t a bona fide bikini 'unless it could be pulled through a wedding ring.'"

So that's how the word "bombshell" came into being.  Wow, I didn't know that.

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