A brief history of the bikini.

The language of style.
July 5 2006 6:17 PM

A Brief History of the Bikini

How the tiny swimsuit conquered America.

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Sixty years ago this week, the world's first bikini made its debut at a poolside fashion show in Paris. The swimsuit is now so ubiquitous—and, when compared with, say, the sight of Britney's pregnant, naked haunches on the cover of Bazaar, so demure—it's hard to comprehend how shocking people once found it. When the bikini first arrived, its revealing cut scandalized even the French fashion models who were supposed to wear it; they refused, and the original designer had to enlist a stripper instead. Click here to read a slide show that explains how the bikini slowly gained acceptance—first on the Riviera, then in the United States—and became a beachfront staple.

Julia Turner is the editor in chief of Slate and a regular on Slate's Culture Gabfest podcast