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Bikini Celebrates 60th Birthday

Vive le bikini.

The must-have of every woman's summer wardrobe has just turned 60 -- and it has never looked so young and hip, or been as popular.

It was not always so.

Invented by French automotive engineer Louis Reard, the swimsuit that took its name from the site of a nuclear test was a big bomb at first, though it eventually became the navel-bearing fashion that launched the careers of Ursula Andress, Bo Derek, Melanie Griffith and Elle Macpherson.

But in 1946, even fashionable, daring Paris was shocked when Reard brought out a range of two-piece swimsuits.

"My bikini is smaller than the smallest swimsuit," he proudly declared.

Reard named his line after the Pacific atoll where the U.S. had just carried out its first peacetime nuclear test, figuring he'd set off a nuclear-sized buzz. Nude dancer Micheline Bernardini became the fashion's first model.

The bikini's bust into the big time would come on the curvy frames of Hollywood icons Marilyn Monore and Rita Hayworth.

In the following decade, Jayne Mansfield provided further publicity, as did Brigitte Bardot in France with her 1956 film "And God Created Woman."

By 1966 -- when Raquel Welch wore one in "One Million Years B.C." -- the bikini had morphed from fashion disaster to fashion dictum.

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