Search the Collection
Advanced Search

Women's reversible bikini

Date: 1960s
Overall: 150 mm
Medium: Cotton
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Swimsuit
Object No: V00016494

User Terms

    This reversible bikini offered the wearer a choice of a hotel key print on a blue background, or a plain navy blue. The hotel key print is typical of the 1950s and 1960s, when decorative arts and fabric designs drew upon iconic images such as playing cards, postcards and keys. Nautical and boating themes were also popular, as were travel and tropical scenes.

    The bikini features a shoe string halter neck and back tie straps, and a decorative tie at the hips. The top is shaped with vertical seams and a narrow band of fabric that wraps around the center of the bust to form a butterfly-style neckline.
    SignificanceThe bikini is representative of women's beachwear fashions from the 1960s, and reflects developments in Australian and international costume design.
    HistoryThe two piece swimsuit, made famous by starlets such as Ava Gardner, emerged during the war time years of the 1940s. Its modest design was less about a motivation to shock, than fabric saving necessity. The two piece of this period usually covered the navel, unlike the more daring bikini that was to gain widespread popularity in the 1960s.

    The bikini was designed in 1946, and named after the Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean, where on July 1 of that year the US Army performed a series of nuclear bomb tests. It marked a reaction to the constraints of heavily structured swimsuits popular in the 1940s and 1950s. The bikini represented freedom, with the body exposed rather than dominated by the swimsuit. The release of beach movies such as 'Gidget' and 'How to Stuff a Wild Bikini' during the 1950s and 1960s also played their part in making the two piece popular.

    In the late 1960s and early 1970s French designers introduced the string bikini. This style was briefer than the bikinis of the 1950s, with a string tie at the halter neck and at the hip on both sides of the triangular pants. Trends then moved towards resortwear styles with minimal coverage and details such as lace-up front bodices, cut-away shaping and tie-sides.

    Discuss this Object


    Please log in to add a comment.