Guess the Designer, Swimsuit Edition!

I’ve caught me a case of spring fever, and can’t stop looking at all of the designer bikinis I absolutely cannot afford this summer. (Thanks, April issue of Vogue.) Some of my online shopping led to vintage swimsuits, which always look better in pictures than on my actual body. (Do any of you ever buy vintage bikinis and wear them?) And all this bikini “shopping” led to today’s Guess the Designer: Swimsuit Edition!

So this is how I’ll probably pick all of the Guess the Designer quizzes from here on. I see a fashion photo, try and guess the designer and fail miserably. Of course, I know better than to underestimate you guys! So show me if you know the answer: Which well-known designer do you think made this green, cotton romper swimsuit in 1969? As for the model’s rootsy dye-job, I have no answers.

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Happy Birthday, Swimsuit Issue! SI Introduces a New Sport: Modeling

On this day in 1964, Sports Illustrated released it’s very first swimsuit issue. The idea was a bit of a lark, a one-off supplement to keep guys warm (and buying magazines and turning pages) during the cold weeks between football and baseball seasons. (In ye olden days, there were blissfully long months between the major sports seasons, with boxing, tennis and basketball filling in as secondary diversions. Sportswriters could get desperate for copy. For instance, in the month following the first swimsuit issue, SI featured Bridge—the card game—as a cover story.) The 10-year-old magazine had put a swimsuit model on the cover once before in 1955, but the companion feature story presented real-life muckety-mucks palling around their Caribbean vacation homes in sportswear and summer dresses, not pretty models posing in scant swimsuits.

What is surprising about the inaugural swimsuit issue is it actually seems…sporting. Photographer J. Frederick Smith shot model Babette March laughing in the Read More »

Cinemode: Beach Party

On July 14, 1963, the Annette Funicello–Frankie Avalon pairing premiered with Beach Party, and America’s crush on Southern California surf culture bloomed into a full-blown teenage love affair. Beach Party wasn’t the first movie to feature clean-cut American teens “shooting the curl”—that genre began four years earlier with surfing tomboy Sandra Dee in Gidget—but Beach Party focused less on sports in the water and more on teenage sexual games on the sand. Gidget’s boyish one-piece swimsuits may have been the best bet on a longboard, but the girls of Beach Party knew that a cute bikini and a well-practiced shimmy in ’60s sportwear were the quickest way to bag a Big Kahuna.

The movie is the first of seven beach party films American International Pictures released between 1963 and 1966, and the first pairing of Avalon and Annette (they’d go on to star in five of the seven films). In Beach Party, Frankie and Delores (Avalon and Funicello), arrive at a beach house for a romantic summer, until she thwarts his plans for pre-marital hanky-panky by secretly inviting a few dozen friends to join them there. It’s probably not a good sign for the relationship, but at least Delores’ prudish defense ensures that the party—and the plot—will carry on for the next hour and 40 minutes. As for the groovy California fashions, Delores’ first appearance in a garish orange mohair sweater over lemon yellow separates doesn’t seem promising—the former Mouseketeer Read More »

Fashion Statement: Louis Reard

“A bikini is not a bikini unless it can be pulled through a wedding ring.”
—Louis Reard, inventor of the bikini, sharing his philosophy with a couple of consultants. To read more fabulous Fashion Statements, click here. (Popperfoto/Getty Images)

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The First Bikini Debuts in Paris—and It’s Explosive

In the early summer of 1946, it was all Bikini, all the time. In headline after headline and story after story the world asked: Were they actually going to go ahead with it? After everything the world had been through (a major war with mass atomic destruction), was Bikini really something they wanted to bring up? Pundits, columnists, commentators, heads of state, military leaders of the world’s superpowers—everyone had their concerns and opinions.

Unfortunately, we’re not talking about three little triangles of fabric held together with string. We’re talking about Bikini, a small Micronesian island in the South Pacific where the U.S. was planning to carry out a series of nuclear bomb tests. The government relocated the reluctant Bikinian Read More »

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