Wednesday, April 19, 2006

All Hail Micheline Bernardini

Author's Note: I received several hundred extra unexplained visits to my Sippican Cottage Furniture page two days ago, and they were looking for Micheline Bernardini. Apparently Fox News did a little style info item about the 60th anniviersary of the invention of the bikini. And if you search google images for the lovely lady's picture, Sippican Cottage Furniture comes up second. The Fox item was on the main page of Fark as well, a raucus and profane news aggregator and message board, which is the biggest thing of its kind on the Internet. If the link was direct to me, it would have melted the servers.

July 5th is the actual anniversary, and I wrote about it on July 5th, 2005. That was back when I didn't have an official blog, I had invented my own, of sorts, as "What's New" on my own webpage. But Blogger's Free, so now we have both. The big newsies are so behind the blogworld. Their audience seems somewhat larger than mine, though. Anyway, I reprint it here now for your amusement, and as I said last year, Micheline looks quite fetching, doesn't she?

July 5th, 2005-
Good day to you. I trust you all had a wonderful time celebrating the Fourth of July. The weather was extremely clement yesterday, and the yard beckoned, and we answered. Lovely.
But now, is the thrill gone? I feared so, and began to wonder- What is the Fifth of July an anniversary for? Anything? Bueller?

Well, I didn't really mean anything. I meant something really notable, or fun, or important. I looked around, but it all seemed trivial, all the July 5ths through the ages:

In 1687, Sir Isaac Newton published his Principia Mathematica. But Einstein shot that all to hell and ruined it for the rest of us.

In 1830, France invaded Algeria, lord knows why.

In 1920, Algeria declared its independence from France, lord knows why. But they've got that going for them.

In 1954, Elvis made his first recording, "The Blue Moon of Kentucky." I didn't hear that being covered at Live8, so I guess he's not noteworthy, huh?

In 1884, Germany, no doubt envious of the Garden of Eden the French had found in Algeria, invaded Cameroon. They must have lost interest in the place on one of the other 364 days of the year, July 5th calendars are mute on the subject.

In 1811. Venezuela declared its independence from Spain, but waited until 2004 to declare its independence from any form of work not based on oil receipts and warmed over Castro politics.

In short, I was going to have to think of something else to bore you with on July fifth. Until...
Omigod. 1946. THE INVENTION OF THE BIKINI. Hosannahs and ululations! Cinco De Mayo, Independence Day, gosh darnit, Christmas is nothing compared to that! Before 1946, ladies bathing suits were designed by the Taliban. And then- France, still stinging from their expulsion from Algeria, no doubt, decided to attract some attention to themselves the old fashioned way, by disrobing, and c'est magnifique! they gave us the most expensive garment per square inch in the world, and worth every penny, I say.

Now, to be a real bikini, we've got to look at that belly button. Various two piece swimsuits had been in vogue in Hollywood, for instance, before 1946, but It took Louis Reard, in Paris, France to get the girls out on the beach properly in a getup worthy of tanning in. Here it is, fashioned by one of the few women brave enough in 1946 France to model it. In 2005, we're having trouble getting anyone to wear at least this much when sunbathing:

Click anywhere on the picture (no wise comments, you) and you'll be transported to Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, and read all about Monsieur Reard and ol' Michele Bernardini, the model, and lots of other interesting stuff about the Bikini Atoll, the islet in the Pacific the garb is named for, and our now thankfully forgotten habit of dropping atomic bombs on it.

And for all you Haute Couture weirdos infesting Paris right now, here's my two cents: That picture was taken in 1946. Miss Bernadini looks quite fetching in that rig, and comfortable to boot. A woman wearing that suit would feel feminine, and attractive, not exhibitionist. And men don't really need to see any more than that to get the general idea. So the next time you people get the urge to reinvent the bathing suit wheel again, like you do every year, and make it look like your model is wearing a bag, or a couple of bottle caps, or a window screen, or little boy's pants, or little more than postage for an undersized envelope, look up this picture, and repeat after me:

Quit while you're ahead.

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