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Louis Reard
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    (1897-September 16, 1984)
    Designed the bikini (July, 1946)
    First bathing suit to expose the wearer’s navel
    Named the swimsuit after Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands where a highly publicized nuclear weapons test had recently been performed
    He was an automotive engineer until he took over his mother’s lingerie business.
    The bikini was considered so risqué that none of his regular models would wear it. Instead, he hired a nude dancer to model it.
    Despite heavy publicity, bikini sales did not really take off until the 1960s.
    He was inspired by seeing women on the beaches of St. Tropez rolling up the edges of their bathing suits for a better tan.
    His explanation for the name: ‘Like the bomb, the bikini is small and devastating.’
    Two months before the bikini debuted, fellow designer Jacques Heim introduced a two-piece bathing suit called the ‘Atome,’ advertised as ‘the world’s smallest bathing suit.’
    In response, he hired skywriters to fly over the Riviera, declaring the bikini ‘smaller than the smallest bathing suit in the world.’

Credit: C. Fishel

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