July 5th, 1946 is classically regarded as the birth date of what we now call the bikini. Designed by Jacques Heim, the two-piece suit was given its name just a year later by another frenchman, Louis Réard.
But that version of history misses the long view. From A History of Women’s Suits, the true story of the bikini,
…begins in the 4th century when the Villa Roma de Casale in Sicily was decorated with the first known representation of women wearing bathing suits. As the Roman mosaic-makers would have it, those early Sicilian women were portrayed exercising in what appears to be bikini-like suits, bandeau top and all.
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