‘This bikini made me a success’
If the Bond franchise weren’t on course to be a box-office winner, Ursula Andress in THAT bikini probably would have been enough to rescue a shaken and stirred Sean Connery. Ursula, as Honey Ryder, stepped out of the tropical, Caribbean sea and onto a million teenage boys bedroom walls. She represented a new breed of sex symbols that were empowered, confident and assured, and not afraid to accessorise their swimwear with an army belt and a commando knife. Constructed from one of Andress’ own bras by Dr No’s costume designer Tessa Welborn, the bikini created maximum fuss with minimum effort. Men wanted her, women wanted to be her.
The bikini represented the optimism of a new decade. Prior to the lean-limbed, doe-eyed Twiggy, now recognised as the face that defines the Sixties, fit and supple physiques were de rigueur. Emphasising Honey Ryder‘s femininity the bikini hugged Andress’ enviable curves, and provided a subtle uplift. And if further proof of Honey Ryder’s lustworthy status were necessary, her itsy-bitsy sold for $140,000 at a Christie’s auction in London in 2001…and Ursula-as-Honey continues to top ‘bikini goddess’ polls, over fifty years after the film’s release.
Mr Reard debuted the modern two-piece in Paris in 1946, his design comprising of four triangles, and not much more. He called it ‘an outfit smaller than the world’s swimsuit’, ambitiously naming it ‘the bikini’, after Bikini Atoll, one of the South Pacific islands where atomic bombs were being tested, perhaps in anticipation of the impact it would have. Micheline Bernardini, a nude dancer, was the first woman to wear Reard’s creation, demonstrating that it was small enough to fit into a matchbox. Between Bridget Bardot (who allegedly did more for French trade and international relations than the automobile industry), Andress’ sweeter-than-honey aesthetic, and Sports Illustrated’s bikini special (published in January 1964, apparently it’s a slow month for sport) the fate, and legend, of the bikini was sealed.