The knack – or bossa – of knowing how to enjoy the sun, sea and sand is one of the most striking characteristics of Brazilian culture and has turned the country into an international reference when it comes to bikinis and beachwear trends. Here you can find out why…
The early evolution of the bathing suit was influenced by the headline-grabbing designs of the 1920s, typified by Jean Patou’s generous two-piece cuts! During the 1930’s beaches were transformed into a focal point of leisure and recreation, the ideal spot for physical activity.
In Paris, during the summer of 1946, the designer Louis Réard unveiled his new creation, the bikini; a design that would later be remodelled by Brazilian culture, establishing it as a universal symbol for beachwear. The bikini’s first outing in Brazil was at the hands of German actress, Miriam Etz, in 1948, on the beach of the “Devil” (Ipanema), an act that caused quite a stir and much disapproval initially.
We have beach fashion to thank for inspiring the famous song, “Girl from Ipanema”, written by Vinicius de Moraes whilst he watched his muse parading up and down the sand in her bikini. At the time women used a pareô over the bikini – an early version of the sarong that was tied at the waist – originally a Tahitian garment. At the same time rubber sandals were launched – a Brazilian export that has since become a huge success worldwide – alongside new swimsuit designs and bikinis made with increasingly sophisticated fabrics – cotton mesh, jacquard and jersey – and featuring elaborate prints: flowers, checked and polka dots, also widely used during the hippie era.
The 1970s was a decade of massive expansion for the beachwear industry of Rio de Janeiro, with large-scale distribution in place throughout Brazil and the rest of the world. Men’s fashion too was modified, the long and billowing shorts giving way to significantly skimpier swimwear. The 1980s saw two new types of bikinis introduced: the asa-delta (hang-glider) and the fio-dental (dental floss), a thin and miniscule garment inspired by the Ibizan fashion of the time, adapted and transformed into the ultimate symbol of sensuality on Brazilian sands, admired and used throughout the world.
Brazilian beaches have always served as backdrops for catalogues, editorials and advertising campaigns for major fashion brands from around the world, which consider Brazil a reference for style and tradition when it comes to beachwear. Little wonder.
The name bikini was given in reference to Bikini Atoll, an island formation located in the Pacific Ocean that has a triangular shape, much like the swimwear.