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Does the bikini have too much hype?

The evolution of the bikini has been interesting.

Now, the bikini is almost a prized piece of art. There’s great fascination around its history, invention and evolution. The bikini was invented to create a fashion sensation. Wow, it’s always got a great reaction! That said, there is a practical aspect in that, it’s much simpler to get in and out of a two-piece than a regular swim costume. Historically, during war time, rationing textile made it more efficient to wear a bikini. It was a dramatic change and made the bikini socially acceptable. That’s what led to the glamourization of two-piece swim costumes. It should be considered that the one-piece costume caused a very similar reaction in the 1910-1930 period, as women were seen for the first time with bare legs, active and outdoors. Glamour women in a bikini had arrived and were making a sensation. When stars like Brigitte Bardot and Ursula Andress began wearing the bikini, the star factor attached itself to their clothing. To feel as glamorous as a movie star, it made perfect sense to copy what they wore.

There is evidence of bikini-shaped garments from antiquity -- Greek images on urns and Roman mosaics depict women athletes wearing what is essentially the modern bikini. The bandeau top is functional and acts as a brassiere for athletes -- ancient and modern. The best-known version of the story is that engineer Louis Reard and fashion designer Jacques Heim invented the ‘Bikini’ in 1946 in Paris -- and named it for the atomic bombs being tested in the Bikini Atoll of the Pacific in July of that year. Apparently, they thought it would cause a similar explosive reaction. Heim & Reard’s ‘Bikini’ was actually quite daring, with a high cut string bottom, although the version that eventually became popular. Gradually, as it became acceptable in Western society to bare the midriff, bikinis have become smaller, and sometimes leave out the top altogether--see Rudi Gernreich’s edgy (and not very popular!) ‘Monokini’. Different styles are acceptable in different places -- a beach in Brazil is different to one in North America.

Fashion wise, the two-piece or bikini just follows the development of the 20th century. First it became acceptable for women to bathe in the sea, and woolen swimming dresses emerged; as women began to assert themselves as athletic and advances were made in fabric technology,synthetic one-piece costumes developed. The next logical step was the simpler two-piece. It’s popularity has in- creased in proportion to the popularity of sunbathing, swimming, beach holidays, and other aspects of modern life. Hence, bikini wars started. To a point, where the bikini became an obsession!

"Men think the bikini is the most sensual garment." - Suneet Varma, Fashion Designer.

The bikini is nothing but a three piece triangle. It’s like the bermuda triangle, where men just lose themselves. It drives men crazy. The bikini makes men forget any other attachment they have. Essentially, the bikini was adapted from the lingerie. It’s almost like an undergarment which can be worn outside.

The evolution of the bikini triggered the inside-outside revolution. Gautlier revolutionised the bikini and corset by making his models wear them on clothes. In fact, La Perla’s colourful bikini tops are worn only under transparent shirts, to show-off. The fashion interpretation of the bikini has been over-glamourised. Now, I see women on Miami beaches wearing bikini briefs with sexy halter tops. I agree, bikini’s the most seductive piece of clothing ever invented.

It has an emotional, physical and metaphysical dimension to it. It can be sensual, sporty, seductive all at the same time. When it’s sporty, bikini’s construction is not so exhibitionist! Most men I know, find it the most exciting piece of garment. Iconic images of a bikini always arouse great curiosity. Men and bikinis have a unique, interesting relationship -- it’s pure erotica. That’s why bikini has been over-glamourised because it’s the briefest garment in the world. The bikini has changed the shape and style of fashion. There’s nothing sexier than the itsy-bitsy, teenie weenie bikini!

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