68 years ago today, the greatest swimwear invention in history went on sale. What we know now as the bikini went on sale on July 5, 1946 following a smashing debut at the Piscine Molitor in France.
While the suit would end up being larger when it hit the States, the original bikini was small enough to fit inside a 2″ square box, and more closely resembled what is now referred to as a g-string. French engineer Louis Réard was inspired by the lingerie he saw in his mother’s lingerie shop, Les Folies Bergère, and he was the one that coined the term bikini.
Separate from Réard, a fashion designer named Jacques Heim was also working to create a better bathing suit, and his much larger version of the bikini was the first actually worn on beaches in France. Réard set the world ablaze, however, when he photographed a nude dancer by the name of Micheline Bernardini wearing his bikini design at the aforementioned Piscine Molitor on July 5, 1946.
Today, the bikini is everywhere, and we have those two men (and that intrepid young woman) to thank for it. The most glorious celebration of the bikini design, however, has got to be the whipped cream bikini. There’s nothing sexier than a desert topping being the only thing between you and a fully naked woman!