The bikini, the very mention conjures up pleasant thoughts. From beauty to beach to fun. The bikini has been linked to romantic and far away resort and vacation destinations such as Italy, France and Brazil. This alluring garment, however, is most notable for the many celebrities who poised in this unique and skimpy apparel.
Some celebrities, achieved fame without the bikini (albeit some achieved fame through no clothing at all) but a rare few were famous for their one piece suits. A historical review of famous actresses throughout history from the 1950s and onward is fun and intriguing. Revisit history with us as we view Grace Kelly to Farrah Fawcett. Surprisingly a couple of top celebrities such as Farrah Fawcett, Elizabeth Taylor simply were never photographed in a bikini. That doesn't mean they never wore one but it does showcase the bikini did not make the celebrity. Jackie Kennedy questioned the morality of the bikini. Review the historical photos and give your opinion. Was the celebrity status created in spite of - not strictly because of the bikini?
Elizabeth Taylor Swim Suit - One Piece Only
Bikini and Morality
Besides the morality of the bikini and some feel strongly it is only to be worn in private and I respect that opinion, regardless of the morality question, the world's most expensive bikini ever (and perhaps the most revealing bikini ever!) - $30 million dollars and very little coverage is presented in the last segment of this article. Be sure to cast your vote at the end for the best celebrity bikini ever!
In recent years, the famous Valerie Bertinelli made headlines with her dramatic change in lifestyle and associated weight. Her challenge in 2007 was to have a photo shoot at age 47 in a bikini. An inspiration to women all over the world over 40. Valerie you rock! While Valerie may have been married to Eddie Van Halen, the lead singer of the rock bank group Van Halen and inductee of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the real rock star is the lady over 40 who transformed herself for a bikini photo shoot!
History and Origins of the Bikini
Archaeologists have physical drawings showing the bikini existed in the 4th Century AD. A mosaic found in the Villa Romana del Casale (Piazza Armerina, Sicily) depict women with the first known bikini. So while the French and the Brazilians lay claim to this sexy tiny 2 piece dress, the real innovators of this fashion was of course, the quiescently fashion forward minds of the Italy. Italy - renown for great food, romance and of course the world's sexist clothing. Italy and bikinis - but of course! We should have expected that much!
1940s and the Bikini
The standard in the 1940s was a halter-top. I recall when halter-tops where just about barred and that was in the 1970s. An immoral piece of clothing - reminiscent of the beginning of the bikini! In the 1940s the belly button was still under wraps but stars such as Ava Garner and Lana Turner lead the fashion trends of the 1940s. The beginning of the career of Alberto Vargas was the 1940s. It was stated that in 1946, the bikini was introduced by Louis Reard in Paris, France and its failure was quickly predicted.
Perhaps the 1950s were the turning point where the popularity of the bikini finally took hold. Remember, they fashion gurus condemned it even in France. In 1956 Brigitte Bardot wore a bikini in And God Created Woman which spurred both the US and Europe to wider acceptance.
1960s Bikini Song
The famous Brian Hyland's song entitled "Itsy Bitsy, Teenie Weenie, Yellow Polka Dot Bikini," was a cultural change to hail this infamous garment. California lead the way - as that state in the United States often does and gave a glory to the bikini that had never really advanced until the song made it an accepted part of our American culture.
Types of Bikinis
Swim suits have evolved from the wool often gray or dark suits from the 1800's to the Brazilian bikini which typically is a low-slung hipster bottoms to string bikini, the tankini (my personal favorite), microkini (introduced in 1995: The microkini is named for the extremely tiny, barely covering your private parts swimsuits that are said to "fill a niche between nudism and conservative swimwear."), pubikini (a bikini with a tiny triangle for the bottom front), and the monokini (one-piece garment covering only the lower half, revealing the breasts completely) Whatever the type of bikini, all fashion forms including the 1940s halter tops with the bottoms covering the belly button had and continue to have the power to dream, fantasize and elevate the female body to star quality as many of the celebrities throughout history have noted.
1950s and 60's
Here we come to the most explosive era in swimsuit history, literally. Although the one piece swimsuit still reigned supreme, big changes were on the horizon.
Present Day - New Technology and Trends
Today's two pieces can be almost anything - with as much or as little coverage as you prefer. The board shorts are both comfortable and practical for swim fitness. Technology has provided innovation with the tan-through swimwear. And the extreme fashion is now shear swim wear - once again pushing the limits of nudity. UV Swimwear with SPF of 50+ may be the next unexplored frontier as we learn about more about skin cancer and hopefully are better at utilizing the best exercise programs available - swim fitness.
Newest Technology - Latest Controversy - Sheer Swimsuits!
No, I will not show you here - but trust me they do exist!
2008 Valerie Bertinelli in a Bikini
1950s Jayne Mansfield
2008 Valerie Bertinelli
Favorite Bikini Heroine
As a female over 40 and flirting with 50, I find my favorite bikini heroine to be Valerie Bertinelli. As a strong believer in the healing power of cardiovascular exercise and target toning, Valerie is the pin-up poster for beauty and fitness. Valerie Anne Bertinelli was in Wilmington, Delaware on April 23, 1960.
In 2007 she confided to PEOPLE Magazine "I'm Fat". Her stated goal was to loose 30 pounds and transition from size dress 14 to size 8. source: http://weightlosstory.blogspot.com/
How did she do it? The old fashion way - hard work and cardiovascular exercise and target toning. She credits resistance bands and weights, push-ups, tricep dips, squats and sit-ups.
The remainder of the history of bikinis pail in comparison to Valerie's true life story of improving her appearance and her health. Nonetheless, all celebrities who dare to don the "immoral" clothing of the one piece or the two piece deserve credit. Onward we shall go.... from the prolific 1950s to modern day bling and diamond bikinis.
Back to the History of the Celebrities in Bikinis
I started with my favorite heroine and now back to the history of the bikini and celebrities.
1940s and 1950s with Vargas through the Prolific 1950s
The 1940s saw the innovative and talented pin-up artist, Alberto Vargas emerge. Vargas set the stage for the prolific 1950s. Leading ladies such as the very sexy Marilyn Monroe to the sensuous Jayne Mansfield to the elegant Grace Kelly donned this distinctive fashion statement.
Jayne Mansfield (April 19, 1933 – June 29, 1967 was an American actress working both on Broadway and in Hollywood. A leading sex symbols of the 1950s. According to Playboy, her measurement was 40D-21-36 and her height was 5'6".
1940s Alberto Vargas
1940s Artist Alberto Vargas and Bikinis
Alberto Vargas 1940s and 1950s
As a lover of great art, I have always appreciated the details and emotion that Alberto Vargas has rendered to his calendars and pin-ups. Yes, a "pin-up" artist but Vargas is undoubtedly the world's most famous pin-up artist. To substantiate my unprofessional artistic opinion, his paintings have sold for upward of 6 digits. All of his subjects are beautiful but the allure is the playfulness combined with distinctive threads of the seasons or the allure of nudity. Most of his artwork is "semi-nudes", in rare cases, his artwork is truly "nudes" and not permissible out on Hub Pages. This I found out and was pleasantly surprised it was monitored so closely. Kudos is owed to the Hub Pages team!
Alberto Vargas was born on February 9, 1896 in Arequipa, Peru and sadly left us at age 86 on December 30, 1982. His canvas was denoted by his mastery of the airbrush and watercolor combined. Many of his subjects were denoted by super slender fingers and toes often with red nails. Red by the way, I have been told is the color that denotes that as a female you are available. Vargas either knew this or created this color association.
Vargas studied in Europe and moved to the United States in 1916. He worked for Ziegfeld Follies and was responsible for many movie posters. In the 1940s, wikipedia tells us that he was the creator of the pin-ups for the famous Esquire magazine and the term "Varga Girl" was credited to his art renderings.
His artwork lives on in the Spencer Museum of Art at the Unversity of Kansas. In 2003, Christies auctioned some of the archives of Playboy and the 1967 Vargas painting "Trick or Treat" sold for $710, 600.
Notable women painted by Vargas (source: wikipedia) include Olive Thomas, Billie Burke, Nita Naldi, Marilyn Miller, Paulette Goddard and Ruth Etting and also Bernadette Peters (her album cover and an album cover of Peters portrayed by Vargas for Cars' album Candy-O).
1950's Grace Kelly in A Bikini
1951 Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe was 5 foot 5 inches and a BMI of 21.
One writer stated that "she had an incredibly narrow back and rib cage but big boobs, so if she were to pop into Rigby & Peller for a bra fitting today she would probably be a 30E!"
What made her so unique was not just her platinum hair but also her extreme measurements. The different between bust size and waist was 13 inches.
Can you imagine 36-23-35! Now that is a perfect bikini figure!
1966 Raquel Welch in a Bikini 1962 Ursula Andress
"Left: Raquel Welch sports a prehistoric animal-skin version of the bikini in a poster for the 1966 remake of One Million Years BC.
Right: Ursula Andress in her iconic bikini in the first Bond film, Dr No, in 1962. The scene made her the quintessential 'Bond girl'."
1976 Farrah Fawcett's Swimsuit Shoot
One of the most famous pin up posters in recent decades was of course Farrah Fawcett. What is fascinating is the red one piece suit was the famed poster not a bikini!
The full backstory of the iconic one piece pin-up poster is told eloquently by Lisa Gutierrez, The Star.
The story in short, is Farrah chose her one-piece suit to cover a childhood scar on her stomach. She did her own fair and retained the copyright to that iconic photo.
30 years after the famous pin-up poster, Farrah was quoted as saying:
"I was a little self-conscious, probably because my smile is so big," she has said. But the photo, taken before TV stardom, tabloid romances and sensationalized pictorials, was always "more 'me' than any other photograph out there."
It is fitting that the celebrity for Balsam hair products and Noxema skin cream retain her wholesome image with the one-piece shoot.
Pin-up Poster - A True Experience - Not Just a Photo Shoot
This poster I believe is more sexual in nature with the imagination running rapid with the full coverage.
It is the artistic curves of her breasts and her nipples that transcend any nudity - and isn't that the real beauty of artwork - to take you to a different place in your imagination?
1976 Farrah Fawcett Most Famous Pin Up Poster
On a similar note, the iconic photo from the movie 10, a 1979 romantic comedy starring Dudley Moore and Bo Derek and also Julie Andrews (I know I figure she is in the film as well). The film made Derek and Moore superstars overnight. The visual that forever launched this movie in our memory is the beach photo of Derek in her braids in a one-piece swim suit.
Derek would go on to another memorable photo with the magazine Playboy. The famous suede bikini is often forgotten for the memory maker photo of the one-piece from the movie "10".
Bo Derek's Most Famous Swimsuit Photo
Bo Derek who was born on November 20, 1956 as Mary Cathleen Collins in Long Beach, California started modeling as a teenager to pay for a surfboard.
A little reminder of the history of Bo Derek. In 1976, Bo Derek married her director, John Derek, who was 30 years older than her in Germany. Bo was only 16 at the time. She remained married to John until John's death in 1998. John divorced his famous wife, Linda Evans in order to marry Bo. The marriage took place in Germany where they resided because US law would have charged John with statutory rape due to Bo being only 16 years old.
1979 Bo Derek in the Famous Suede Bikini
1980s Bo Derek Playbook Cover
1983 Carrie Fisher Bikini in Return of the Jedi Movie
Princess Leia in a Bikini
A Princess in a bikini? That was the fate of her royal highness, Princess Leia Organa Solo of Alderaan (of the movie sequel to the Star Wars, called the Return of the Jedi) played by Carry Fisher.
This bikini was a distinctive costume made of brass with the g-string panty combined theatrically with leather high-helled boots and red sheer veils for even more drama. The sheer veils were Lashaa silk, the books jerbas hide. The costume dates from 1982.
2006 Most Expensive Bikini in the World
The most expensive bikini in the world and perhaps one of the skimpiest, a bikini that debuted in 2006. Worn by Molly Sims, the mega-diamond bikini for Sport Illustrated’s famous Swimsuit Edition in 2006. Set with Steinmetz Diamonds, designed by Susan Rosen and consisting of 150 carrots of flawless diamonds! The diamond line-up above includes some of the rarest gems in the world:
- a pair of 15 carat, round-cut diamonds;
- a 30 carat, emerald-cut diamond and
- a pear-shaped, 51 carat diamond (that is is not a typo - over 50 carats!),
- perfect D colored stones,
- setting in metal - platinum but of course!
Valued at $30 million - Elizabeth Taylor know for her mega-jewelry probably would have considered this two-piece set.
One reporter noted: "This gorgeous diamond bikini reflects the eternal love and beauty of women."
NOTE: Due to terms of service and the provocative nature of the photo, the photo of this bikini is not shown.
The Moral of the Story - Is the Bikini Immoral
Looking back it is interesting the different thoughts about this skimpy fashion statement.
One of Jacqueline Kennedy's questions was "Do you consider the bikini immoral?"
Interestingly, enough some actresses never did have a photo in a bikini or two piece swim suit.
Photos of Elizabeth Taylor and Sophia Loren along with Farrah Fawcett are not readily available for this extreme fashion statement. Grace Kelly surprised me wearing one pieces only and Elizabeth Taylor (although knowing Liz's love of extreme jewelry, I imagine she would have considered the $30 million bikini!).
The moral of the story of the history of the bikini, it doesn't take a bikini to make a star, the star quality comes from within.
"opening photo - Raquel Welch, one of greatest sex symbols of the Sixties and Seventies, in a 1965 shoot. Two decades earlier, the bikini had shocked French sunbathers when it first appeared on beaches in 1947."
Read more: Bikini a Story in Two Parts
Kelly Kline Burnett (author) from Madison, Wisconsin on January 08, 2013:
You are absolutely correct. I appreciate you bringing this to my attention and have noted the items you have mentioned.
Chris T on January 06, 2013:
"Excellent writing skills"?....for elementary school! Czheck Zbellyng! Painful!
Daniel Crowe on September 27, 2010:
Hey! You had a great hub!1. The girls looks so fabulous in their bikini that made me feel like melting. They are very astounding! Dude, I will want to suggest http://www.latineuro.com. They also have hot girls that will you will love!
Neha J from Delhi on August 17, 2010:
You are a good writer. Thanks
Bikini is good only for private use.
James A Watkins from Chicago on August 11, 2010:
Excellent writing skills on full display, my dear. I truly enjoyed this piece. I am a big fan of bikinis, though I'm not sure I ought to be. :D
Cristopher Chasse from Boston on August 03, 2010:
You made me see every picture twice :) Thank you. Great writing too!
H P Roychoudhury from Guwahati, India on August 01, 2010:
There was a time when people do not know how to cover the body or there is no need to cover the body. The nature grows, similar to that the body also grows or reduces with the span of time at its natural course. When the people thought to be cultured or civilized the concept of covering the body arises. But the tendency to see a girl or a lady to its natural shape persists. So from full dress it has come down to small dress, the dress of the size of Bikini. The beauty sex likes to show her beauty as the opposite sex likes see and enjoy the beauty at the taste of his choice. Even if we recognized ourselves as cultured but we could not sacrificed the natural feelings of emotion for the beauty of opposite sex. Then why do not in certain place of beach are protected for open amusement of beauty sex with bikini or without bikini as the nature demands like the blowing of flowers in a garden.
Yena Williams from California on August 01, 2010:
You got in all the best bikini babes. Love Jayne Mansfield and the bond girls. Great hub!
saddlerider1 on July 31, 2010:
I have been a lover of the bikini all my life and any woman who is afraid to wear one has serious issues. I agree with Lynda completely, no need to cover up and attempt to hide a roll or two. Love your body no matter what size you are and wear a bikini if your so inclined to. Bravo for the bikini lovers of our world. Every beach should be full of them:0)
Micky Dee on July 31, 2010:
"The bikini, the very mention conjures up pleasant thoughts."
Yep! That's why I didn't watch all the videos. I'll have nightmares!
lmmartin from Alberta and Florida on July 30, 2010:
Here on Florida's Gulf Coast, bikinis are seen on the beaches worn by all, big, small, thin, fat, young, old (and before everyone starts hissing and saying "no, no" in Florida, no one cares) so one stops thinking about bikinis and needing a certain body type in order to wear one. (How tedious this media attention to what is or is not attractive or acceptable. Take you judgments and go away.) It's all about feeling good, enjoying the sun and water -- not about whether you have an extra roll or two.
Wear the bikini no matter what, I say. (Mine is a black string bikini) And if you don't like what you see -- don't look!
Don A. Hoglund from Wisconsin Rapids on July 30, 2010:
I only remember the fuss about bikini's in the 1960's "beach" movies.