A bikini, an abbreviated two-piece swimsuit for women, debuted this date in 1946. The basic design is simple: two triangles of fabric on top cover the woman’s breasts and two triangles of fabric on the bottom cover the groin in front and the buttocks in back. The size of a bikini bottom can range from full pelvic coverage to a revealing thong or G-string design.
The name for the bikini design was coined in 1946 by Parisian engineer Louis Reard, the designer of the bikini. He named the swimsuit after Bikini ATOLL where testing on the atomic bomb was taking place. Fashion designer Jacques Heim, also from Paris, re-released a similar design earlier that same year, the Atome. Due to its controversial and revealing design, the bikini was slow to be adopted. In many countries it was banned from beaches and public places. While still considered risqué, the bikini gradually became a part of popular culture when film stars—Brigitte Bardot, Raquel Welch, Ursula Andress and others—began wearing them on public beaches and in film.
The bikini design became common in most Western countries by the mid-1960s as beachwear and swimwear. By the late 20th century it had become common as sportswear in sports such as beach volleyball and bodybuilding. The bikini has gradually grown to gain wide acceptance in Western society. By the early 2000s, bikinis had become a $811 million business annually in the U.S. and boosted spin-off services such as bikini waxing and sun tanning.
Archaeologist James Mellart described the earliest bikini-like costume in Catalhoyuk, Anatolia in the Chalcolithic era (around 5600 BC), where a mother goddess is depicted astride two leopards wearing a costume somewhat like a bikini. The two-piece swimsuit can be traced back to the Greco-Roman world, where bikini-like garments worn by women athletes are depicted on urns and paintings dating back to 1400 BC. (from Wikipedia)