Made famous by Marilyn Monroe, Bond Girls and Love Island, the bikini turns 75 years old… so we recreate the first one

I WILL never forget the moment I watched bikini-clad Ursula Andress sashay out of the sea.

I couldn’t care less about Bond, my eyes were firmly on the bronzed goddess — and THAT bikini. 


In that moment my love for the two-piece was born and I begged my mum to buy me a teenie weenie white one immediately. 

Of course, I wasn’t a patch on Ursula in it. Who could be? 

But it was my first adventure into womanhood and the sexy swimwear made me feel a million dollars. 

Now, over 20 years later, my love for a white two-piece is just as hot — even if the weather isn’t. 


To celebrate the swimwear classic’s 75th birthday, model Estefany Vallenilla, 26, is wearing our recreation of the first bikini.

It is fashioned from a copy of The Sun in a tribute to the original’s newspaper pattern on its fabric.

At the time, the papers were filled with reports of the first US nuclear test at Bikini Atoll — so French fashion designer Louis Reard used the name of the Pacific Ocean reef as he wanted his creation to have a similarly shocking impact on the public.

His bikini was modelled by 19-year-old showgirl Micheline Bernardi who was crowned the prettiest swimmer of 1946 when she showcased the paper two-piece at the Molitor swimming pool in Paris.

Things have come a long way since then — and looking back, I’ve owned every bikini style under the sun.

Strapless pink sparkly ones, sporty ’90s style, sexy black stringy ones and now, after having a baby, higher-waisted styles to hide my mum tum. 

That’s the beauty of a bikini — there’s a style to suit everyone.

Bikinis make me think of sunshine and easier times — they’re the epitome of summer and a staple in my holiday wardrobe. 

While the skimpy swimwear may look fun and flimsy, it actually has a scandalous past. 


At the turn of the 20th Century women were finally allowed to enjoy public beaches but were still expected to cover up. 

The first notable woman to don a swimming costume to the beach was Australian swimmer and silent film star Annette Kellerman.

Despite the outfit basically covering her from head to toe, it caused such an uproar she was arrested for indecent exposure. 

Opposition from fed-up women led to restrictions being lessened — and by 1915 women all over the world were wearing one-piece swimsuits. 


But it wasn’t until July 1946 that the bikini was first unveiled. 

It was such a scandal, that the only person willing to model it was a “showgirl” or stripper.

It was named after nuclear tests being carried out at Bikini Atoll, near Namu island, by the United States. 

The tests created explosions and Reard, who was actually an engineer rather than a fashion designer, patented the word Bikini because he thought the swimwear was going to cause an ‘explosion’ in the fashion world. And he was right.

The first person to wear his creation was Micheline Bernardini, a nude dance employed at the Casino de Paris. She apparently received over 50,000 fan letters after photos were published of her in a bikini.


There was also lots of criticism from people who thought the bikini was too revealing and sexual. 

Although after the second world war the bikini provided some fun and frivolity during austere times.

It also made economic sense because after the Second World War fabric was scarce and bikinis used much less than conventional swimming costumes – the perfect excuse. 

But it was really during the 1960s that bikinis became popular – the time of sexual revolution and, thanks to the Pill, free love.

It was also when flying abroad for holidays started to become normal with ordinary people – rather than just the upper classes or wealthy. 


Although not many people could afford the luxury of sunbathing on a yacht – soaking up the sun next to pools or on glorious Mediterranean beaches became fashionable. And what better way to get that all-over tan than in a teeny-weeny bikini?

While bikini wearing models, like British Jean Shrimpton, strutted their stuff along the catwalks, young stars of the screen, like French woman Catherine Deneave, made them popular in films of the day.

Glamourous bikini-wearing sex sirens were also popular in the iconic James Bond films. 

Who can forget the moment Swiss model and film star, Ursula Andress, playing the part of Honey Ryder in the first Bond film, Dr No, emerged from the sea in a revealing bikini. The image was considered very sexually daring at the time –1962.

Since Dr No, bikini clad ‘Bond girls’ have become a staple of the films. Although recently, the trend has gone against overtly sexualised images of women being cast merely as the playthings of men. 

More recently, actresses like Elizabeth Hurley, Kim Kardashian and Iskra Lawrence have graced magazines wearing bikinis. 

Of course the two-piece can be a hazard. I still blush when I remember jumping into a swimming pool at 19 and accidentally flashing everyone in the process. 

“You wouldn’t have this problem if you wore a proper swimsuit,” my mum laughed. 

Perhaps not, but life is too short for boring, practical one-pieces. 

Another time I wore my favourite white halterneck bikini to the beach with a guy I fancied. 

As we frolicked in the baking hot August heat I thought it would be a good idea to strip off and go skinnydipping. 

I left my treasured bikini on the beach and ran carefree into the crashing waves. 

After 20 minutes or so we came back to the beach to find our bikinis – and clothes – had vanished. A group of kids were giggling in the distance so we had no choice but to run nude back to our car. 

For me, some of my fondest memories of adolescence are wrapped up in the humble polyester. 

Just as the styles of the bikinis have varied over the years, so has what’s considered fashionable in the way women look.

The trend has moved towards a more curvaceous look for women and Love Island contestants showcase their killer curves on air to bag modelling contracts afterwards. 

But one thing is certain, the bikini is here to stay. 

So thank you Louis Reard – and happy 75th birthday bikini…I swimwear-salute you.

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