A brief history of the bikini.

The language of style.
June 27 2009 7:08 AM

A Brief History of the Bikini

How the tiny swimsuit conquered America.

Click image to expand.

Summer is upon us, which means that Americans are heading to the beach to slather on the sunscreen and slip out of their clothes. In honor of the season, we present a two-piece celebration of the two-piece: In 2006, on the swimsuit's 60th birthday, Julia Turner chronicled the rise of the bikini in America. Click on the module above to launch that slide-show essay, "A Brief History of the Bikini," reintroduced below. For a Magnum photo gallery of the bikini, click here.

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 that 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.

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