The bikini turned 70 this week. It was apparently born when a a WW2-era fabric shortage led designers to reimagine styles with a little less substance to them. The French took over, and inspired by seeing women on beaches rolling up their swimwear for better tans, Louis Réard called his lingerie-inspired concoction “the bikini” and unveiled it on July 5, 1946, just five days after he first testing of a nuclear device was held in Bikini Atoll, and likening it to an ‘explosive commercial and cultural reaction’. It was.
To celebrate, I’m putting together a little list of even littler swimsuits from our favourite movie scenes. This isn’t going to be exhaustive by a long shot so if I’ve missed your favourite bikini scene, please let us know.
Blake Lively is swimming bikini-clad in a theatre near you in a thriller called The Shallows. She worked out extra hard so she’d look good clinging to this buoy but apparently also remained appetizing to the shark. Jessica Alba put her bikini body on the map in a movie called Into The Blue. A stunt double filmed scenes for her behind her back, forcing Alba to keep the bikini thing going for far longer than she was comfortable with. The gimmick worked though, and her bikini is what people remember most about the movie. Kate Bosworth made her bikini mark in Blue Crush, a movie about “girl surfers” with an impressive amount of wardrobe changes. Bosworth wasn’t the only one turning heads – her whole crew, including Michelle Rodriguez and Sanoe Lake, looked equally fabulous wearing not very much.
A bikini often signals The Temptress and I’m not sure if there’s recently been a better example than Kate Upton bouncing around in The Other Woman. Who else are you going to get o make Cameron Diaz, an honest-to-god-Charlie’s-Angel, to feel vulnerable? (Sidebar: who among us could forget when a 40&fab Demi Moore strutted around in her bikini, putting those Angels to shame?) Meanwhile, Brooklyn Decker was on hand to heat things up in Just Go With It and did a mighty fine job of it until her co-star Jennifer Aniston took off her own clothes revealing that “sneaky hot body” (and then had a coconut-bikini-off with Nicole Kidman, just to keep things classy). And I can hardly write a bikini post without mention of Bunny Lebowski (Tara Reid) in her lime green bikini (and matching scrunchie!) asking for her toes to be blown on. The 90s were a fabulous time. Just two years later, another bikini was making an impression on me: Virginie Ledoyen was looking fine in Danny Boyle’s The Beach. Oh to be the sand upon which she lays. The bikini, by the way, has a great built-in sand disposal unit. It has nowhere to hide! And how can we forget Salma Hayek revealing herself to English-speaking audiences in a daring little bikini (boldly accessorized) in From Dusk Till Dawn. She owned that thing like she owned us. Also sealing sex symbol status in bikinis: Angelina Jolie in Tomb Raider. Not that her usual Lara Croft attire left much to the imagination, but fan boys like skin and she was prepared to flash it, as long as she could still strap on her weaponry. Margot Robbie, however, didn’t need knives, because she’s got killer curves and puts them to devious use in Focus.
Of course, bikinis weren’t always so itsy-bitsy. When Annette Funicello first hopped her way on to beach blankets, her bikini was anything but skimpy. It still infuriated Disney (she was a Mousketeer, the epitome of wholesomeness) so you could say that it was her rather dowdy swimsuit that helped pave the way for newer generations of Disney stars gone sexy, like Selena Gomez in Spring Breakers.
Also on the bikini shit list: Raquel Welch, who inspired a pin-up-worthy movie poster for One Million Years B.C. in which she wore a bikini made of animal skin, infuriating PETA. Sorry PETA, but I think it’s clear that Raquel wins.
Another dubious choice for bikini material: Pam Grier’s crocheted bikini. I don’t want to think about what it looks like if you get it wet, but here’s the thing about Pam Grier: she makes everything look cool. And speaking of bikinis you wouldn’t want to get wet, how about that metal slave bikini that Leia wears in Star Wars at the insistence of creepo Jabba the Hutt? Metal rusts when it gets wet, and would also probably weigh you down if there was enough of it (which there isn’t). Carrie Fisher actually had two bikinis – a real metal one she wore while lying around and a lighter-fabric replica when she needed to move around. Either way the bikini was Jabba’s undoing – didn’t she choke him out with her own chains?
This list wouldn’t exist without Bo Derek. She has proven over and over to be a perfect ’10’ and has more bikini looks than I can count. I might be slightly partial to this one. Brigitte Bardot has also earned herself multiple entries onto this list and actually starred in a movie called The Girl in the Bikini, although she’d popularized the look as far back as 1956 in …And God Created Woman. No matter when or where, she’s always doing it justice.
And finally: Every Bond Girl Ever.
Gloria Hendry is to be applauded not just for sporting a bikini while kicking ass in Live or Let Die, but for successfully accessorizing it with a machine gun. She’s tough and fit but proves she’s also sassy and feminine in her swimwear. James Bond never stood a chance.
Halle Berry turned his head in this orange number from Die Another Day, now an iconic Bond Girl look, with a knife strapped to her thigh. This particular bikini was of course a send-up to an earlier Bond Girl: Ursula Andress 40 years prior in Dr. No. She too appeared from the sea in nothing but a bikini and a blade. The copycats don’t end there: you may remember that Heather Graham sported a similar look in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me.
And just so as not to end this post on Heather Graham:
Claudine Auger from 1965’s Thunderball in a black and white bikini and an even nicer accessory: Sean Connery.
Mie Hama from 1967’s You Only Live Twice in a familiar-looking white bikini.
Diamond-smuggling bad girl in a hot bikini: Tiffany Case (Jill St John) from 1971’s Diamonds Are Forever.
Britt Ekland as Mary Goodnight in a very 1970s print bikini in The Man With The Golden Gun (1974).
Caroline Munro throws a kimono over her bikini in 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me.
And here’s Caterina Murino riding a horse in a bikini (no mention of chafing) in Casino Royale – a sequined La Perla bikini. You know, La Perla, the lingerie store. In case you had any illusions. They no longer have this for sale, but they do have it, along with Daniel Craig’s tiny trunks, on display in their Beverly Hills location.