When the modern bikini was invented, the inventor had to get a nude dancer to market it because everyone thought it was too revealing.
In the 1940’s, Louis Réard and his rival designer were competing to produce the world’s smallest swimsuit. In 1946, Réard introduced the modern bikini, made out of only 30 square inches of fabric.
The swimsuit was basically just a bra top and two inverted triangles of cloth connected by string. Because his rival had marketed “the world’s smallest bathing suit,” he called his “smaller than the world’s smallest bathing suit. He named his invention after the Bikini Atoll, where the idea had struck him when he saw women rolling up their beachwear to get better tans.
But problems arose when he couldn’t find a model willing to wear his design. It was considered far too immodest, so Réard had to hire Micheline Bernardini, a nude dancer from the Casino de Paris. The bikini was a smash hit, such that Bernardini received 50,000 fan letters. Réard’s tagline for the bikini was that it “wasn’t a bikini unless it could be pulled through a wedding ring.”