It might surprise people to know that the word "bikini" was taken by Louis Réard from Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean, where the first atomic bomb test was carried out on July 1, 1946 and 22 subsequent nuclear bombs were detonated.
Another Frenchman, Jacques Heim, had come out with a two-piece suit called the "Atome" three weeks before the bikini made its debut, billed as the world's smallest swimsuit. But the atome was quickly usurped by "le bikini."
The nuclear allusions might seem strange, but beautiful women were called "bombshells" in the 1940s.
In this photo, Micheline Bernardini introduces the "tiny" bikini, made from only 30 inches of fabric, at the Molitor swimming pool in Paris, July 5, 1946, holding a matchbox to show off that the new swimsuit could fit entirely into it.
"You had two-piece bathing suits in France from the 1930s on" said Valerie Steele, museum director at New York's Fashion Institute of Technology. "But as they got skimpier, the exposure of the belly button with bikinis caused a huge uproar. And for a long time, that was really quite taboo in America. Two-piece was fine to show some midriff. But you didn't want to show the belly button itself."