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The bikini gets its name from what unlikely source?



  Micheline Bernardini models the first modern bikini
Hulton Archive / Wikimedia

Answer: The Atomic Bomb

In 1

946, two different events overlapped one another in such a way that a swimsuit was forever attached to an island. The island in question is the Bikini Atoll, an annular coral reef island in the Pacific Ocean within the Republic of the Marshall Islands. There, the United States tested 23 nuclear devices between 1946 and 1958.

When the tests began on the atoll, news spread around the world, and the designer of the modern two-piece swimsuit learned that this was the case. French automobile engineer Louis Réard heard about Bikini Atoll. Réard was so sure that his design – which revealed more of belly and chest than the previous two-piece bathing suits – would gain in popularity as explosively as a nuclear bomb, calling it the bikini, alluding to the site of the nuclear tests.

Réard was right in the long run. In the short term, the design was considered scandalous. In fact, he could not even find a regular model in Paris to model the design for him. The woman shown here, Micheline Bernardini, was a nude dancer from the Casino de Paris, who gladly accepted in the summer of 1946 to promote the new swimsuit style. Part of the ad was the box she holds in the photo at the top: Réard's design was so small that the entire two-piece swimsuit could be tucked into the little box in her left hand.


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