G-strings to mankinis: the most iconic summer bikinis


As holidaymakers all over the world head to the beach frantically stuffing come hither bikinis, swimsuits, speedos and various other questionable species of swimwear into suitcases, let’s take a look back at the most iconic summer bikinis from throughout history.

ancient bikini
Mosaic from 4th Century, Ancient Sicily

As the mercury in the thermometer rises, even the smallest thread of material can feel too unbearably hot. Or at least that seemed to be the case in Ancient Sicily. This mosaic dating back to the 4th century depicts frolicking nymph-like girls disporting themselves in what were perhaps the world’s very first ‘skimpy’ bikinis.

world's first bikini
Louis Reard’s G-string bikini, 1946

In 1946, French engineer Louis Reard designed a swimsuit that was to revolutionise the face of beach fashion forever: a risqué G-string cut in retro newspaper print dubbed in the advertising campaign as ‘smaller than the smallest swimsuit’. Reard coined the word ‘bikini’, naming the item after an island in the South Pacific. He wanted the reactions to his new innovation to be as explosive as America’s atomic bomb which, coincidentally, was being tested on the island at the time. He certainly achieved his aim. The bikini’s popularity can be testified by Micheline Bernardini, the model for this initial design, who received fan mail of over 50,000 letters.

hollywood bikini
Marilyn Monroe, 1951

1950s pin-up girls Brigitte Bardot and Marilyn Monroe brought the bikini in to the Hollywood spotlight. Monroe’s polka dot bikini was so inspirational that Brian Hyland was inspired to release a song about it. As a testament to the cult-like following of the bikini, Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini made it to number one in the charts in 1960.

borat mankini
Sacha Baron Cohen, Borat, 2006

Fast forward to the twenty-first century where, in the era of gross obesity and a heavy prevalence of man boobs, even men seem to be getting in on the act. In Borat, Sacha Baron Cohen created the ‘mankini’, an electric green thong which succeeded in permanently scarring the retinas of viewers everywhere.

dolce and gabbana
David Gandy for Dolce and Gabbana, 2007

However, it must be said that there can only be one true iconic swimwear moment in history. The Golden Adonis, otherwise known as David Gandy, reclining in barely-there white speedos in the Dolce and Gabbana perfume advert from 2007 leaps to claim this title. Crystal blue sea, washboard stomach (not to mention great biceps) and a brooding gaze into the camera … what more could one want?

Images/ www.time.com; www.shape.com; www.stylexstyle.com.


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