Clothing in ancient Rome One of the earliest known visual documentations of a bikini, from the Ancient Roman Villa Romana del Casale Artwork dating back to the Diocletian period AD in Villa Romana del Casale , Sicily , excavated by Gino Vinicio Gentili in , depicts women in garments resembling bikinis in mosaics on the floor. Some activities depicted have been described as dancing,  as their bodies resemble dancers rather than athletes. Hanfmann the bikini girls made the learned observers realize "how modern the ancients were".
Observation of artifacts and experiments shows bands had to be wrapped several times around the breasts, largely to flatten them in a style popular with flappers in the s. Evidence suggests regular use. A statue of the so-called Venus in a bikini was found in a cupboard in the southwest corner in Casa della Venere, others were found in the front hall. They found them so shocking that for long periods the secret chamber was opened only to "mature persons of secure morals".
Even after the doors were opened, only 20 visitors were to be admitted at a time, and children under 12 were not allowed into the new part of the museum without their parents' or a teacher's permission. Ovid , the writer ranked alongside Virgil and Horace as one of the three canonical poets of Latin literature , suggests the breastband or long strip of cloth wrapped around the breasts and tucked in the ends, is a good place to hide love-letters.
Swimming or outdoor bathing were discouraged in the Christian West and there was little need for a bathing or swimming costume till the 18th century. The bathing gown in the 18th century was a loose ankle-length full-sleeve chemise -type gown made of wool or flannel, so that modesty or decency was not threatened. By the second half of the 19th century, in France, the sleeves started to vanish, the bottom became shorter to reach only the knees and the top became hip-length and both became more form fitting.
Annette Kellerman in a self-designed form-fitting one-piece tank suit , c. In , Australian swimmer and performer Annette Kellerman was arrested on a Boston beach for wearing a form-fitting sleeveless one-piece knitted swimming tights that covered her from neck to toe, a costume she adopted from England,  although it became accepted swimsuit attire for women in parts of Europe by In , inspired by that breakthrough, the designer Carl Jantzen made the first functional two-piece swimwear, a close-fitting one-piece with shorts on the bottom and short sleeves on top.
The name "swim suit" was coined in by Jantzen Knitting Mills, a sweater manufacturer who launched a swimwear brand named the Red Diving Girl,. Rayon was used in the s in the manufacture of tight-fitting swimsuits,  but its durability, especially when wet, proved problematic,  with jersey and silk also sometimes being used.
The film " Man with a Movie Camera " shows Russian women wearing early two-piece swimsuits which expose their midriff, and a few who are topless. Films of holidaymakers in Germany in the s show women wearing two-piece suits,  Necklines and midriff[ edit ] Academy Award winning actress Jane Wyman on a California beach in a two-piece swimsuit that bares the legs and midriff, By the s, necklines plunged at the back, sleeves disappeared and sides were cut away and tightened.
With the development of new clothing materials, particularly latex and nylon , through the s swimsuits gradually began hugging the body, with shoulder straps that could be lowered for tanning.
Coco Chanel made suntans fashionable,  and in French designer Madeleine Vionnet offered an exposed midriff in an evening gown. They were seen a year later in Gold Diggers of The Busby Berkeley film Footlight Parade of showcases aquachoreography that featured bikinis. Dorothy Lamour 's The Hurricane also showed two-piece bathing suits. Cotton sun-tops, printed with palm trees, and silk or rayon pyjamas, usually with a blouse top, became popular by The July 9, , Life shows women in Paris wearing similar items.
What made the Moonlight Buoy distinctive was a large cork buckle attached to the bottoms, which made it possible to tie the top to the cork buckle and splash around au naturel while keeping both parts of the suit afloat. Life magazine had a photo essay on the Moonlight Buoy and wrote, "The name of the suit, of course, suggests the nocturnal conditions under which nude swimming is most agreeable.
However, midriff fashion was stated as only for beaches and informal events and considered indecent to be worn in public. Keeping in line with the ultra-feminine look dominated by Dior , it evolved into a dress with cinched waists and constructed bustlines, accessorized with earrings, bracelets, hats, scarves, sunglasses, hand bags and cover-ups. Swimsuit and Beachwear The modern bikini[ edit ] Micheline Bernardini modeling one of the first modern bikinis French fashion designer Jacques Heim , who owned a beach shop in the French Riviera resort town of Cannes , introduced a minimalist two-piece design in May which he named the " Atome ," after the smallest known particle of matter.
Tropez beaches rolling up the edges of their swimsuits to get a better tan  and was inspired to produce a more minimal design. He trimmed additional fabric off the bottom of the swimsuit, exposing the wearer's navel for the first time. He also initiated a bold ad campaign that told the public a two-piece swimsuit was not a genuine bikini "unless it could be pulled through a wedding ring.
Only women in the vanguard, mostly upper-class European women embraced it. Only women in the vanguard, mostly upper-class European women embraced it, just like the upper-class European women who first cast off their corsets after World War I. In , Time magazine interviewed American swimsuit mogul Fred Cole, owner of Cole of California , and reported that he had "little but scorn for France's famed Bikinis," because they were designed for "diminutive Gallic women". During the Cannes Film Festival , she worked with her husband and agent Roger Vadim , and garnered a lot of attention when she was photographed wearing a bikini on every beach in the south of France.
Shortly after the bikini was banned in Spain, Pedro Zaragoza , the mayor of Benidorm convinced dictator Francisco Franco that his town needed to legalize the bikini to draw tourists. In , General Franco agreed and the town became a popular tourist destination. Interestingly, in less than four years since Franco's death in , Spanish beaches and women had gone topless. Indecent exposure The swimsuit was declared sinful by the Vatican and was banned in Spain, Portugal and Italy, three countries neighboring France, as well as Belgium and Australia, and it remained prohibited in many US states.
It's at the razor's edge of decency. The bikinis were outlawed and evening gowns introduced instead. Film historian Bruce Goldstein described her clothes in the first film as "It's a loincloth open up the side. You can see loin. When the navel showed in pictures, it was airbrushed out by magazines like Seventeen.
Navel-less women ensured the early dominance of European bikini makers over their American counterparts. But, it was the halterneck bikini that caused the most moral controversy because of its degree of exposure. So much so as bikini designs called "Huba Huba" and "Revealation" were withdrawn from fashion parades in Sydney as immodest.