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1965-1970: The First Topless Bikinis
The Lay of the Land
   The late 1960s are a time a simultaneous contrasts. In popular American media, string halters and nombril briefs remain the norm (CP6610, RW196710, RW196810, JB6810, TD6710). Sideties resonate on the unfastening theme (MT6910) and very low waistlines uncover bellage (ME6910) and rugage (EQ6810).
   Powered by California beach party movies, pinup stars like Raquel Welch and Usurla Andress gain popularity. Advertising employs bikinis and bikini styles infect lingerie styles (RW196720). In One Million Years B.C. Welch's "first bikini" is her only costume; it becomes an instant planetary icon (RW196605). By the end of the decade she is flaunting an Americana theme (RW197005) and commanding a gallery of rowers in an equally revealing costume (RW197010). Bra cups are often cut low enough to display inches of cleavage (VD7010) if not tease areola (UA6610).
   In a world of topless, pasties and nipple decoration also acquire validity (EC6510, BZ6801).
   As the bikini shrinks smaller and smaller it becomes obvious that if this trend is to continue that something must give. And that something is the bikini top, the soutien-gorge.

The French Go Topless
   The first foray to toplessness is a broadside, fired by American fashion designer Rudi Gernreich in 1964 and described in detail in the early 1960s page.
   In America, at least in the mid 1960s, topless fails to migrate from the pages of Life Magazine onto real beaches. But the story in Europe was very different. Led by the daring and the naturalist set the first topless niche is the south of France. The movement seeps up from the naturalist beaches along the Riveria and concentrates at the nouveau riche St. Tropez and Cannes. At Cannes, the site of a major international film festival, a horde of obliging movie starlets doff their tops and vie for the riotous attention of a horde of photographers snapping their pictures--and sending the message around the world (L196250, L196251). In 1965 Playboy reports on "The Girls of the Riviera," who "take eye-filling advantage of a recent French court decision allowing topless beach attire." The monokini movement gains momentum when young French actress Brigitte Bardot introduces topless sunbathing at the Byblos Hotel in St. Tropez in 1967 (BB6710). The Byblos accommodates them by building a solarium, surrounded by bushes, near the pool.
   So although the French prove Rudi Gernreich right on his five year estimate, they prove him wrong on the style, for they avoid the flim-flam of straps, attempts to make the maillot topless, and coiture. The French simply shed their bikini tops altogether (MR6810).
   By 1970 the movement catches the attention of French fashion magazine Elle (E197002) and begins it migration from pinup starlets at Cannes to French women of every age and description. The resort beaches at Monte Carlo, St. Tropez and Côté d'Azur become famous worldwide (EE197810).
   Less uptight than the Americans, European women throughout the northern Mediterranean embrace the extra freedom of movement, more natural look, and equal exposure to the sun that males enjoy. Topless spreads to Spain, Italy, Germany, as well as to French Arab retreats in Africa, and to the French islands in the Caribbean, where the more adventurous Americans traveled too. By the 1980s, Australia is topless.
   The exact source of the influences that converge at this time include the reductionist pressures of the bikini and liberating feminist tendencies. The dress of the music hall now arrives at the masses. Now, not going topless at St. Tropez is gauche.

American Topless
   But despite Rudi Gernreich, topless fashion is slow to spread to the American beach. It is ironic that the maximum resistance is not the Catholic countries of southern Europe, but in Protestant-dominated America, where topless is met with a strident backlash of legislative mistrust. In many places a struggle results between conservative municipalities and feminist/naturalist factions. Only the Muslim world remains more conservative.
   Clearly, significant elements of American society embrace the new freedom. Hollywood doesn't miss a beat. In 1965 Thelma Oliver bares her breasts in the Pawnbroker; it is the first such exposure since the advent of the Hays Code. Playboy informs its readers about topless, the no-bra bra, the bottomless (or what we now call a maillot tanga, PB6501), and Mary Quant's newest invention, the miniskirt, in "The Nude Look." The following year actress Jane Fonda sheds her top for a pool dip (JF6610), and demonstrates that Americans can match European talent. Except that back in England Jane Birkin and Gillian Hills display full-frontal nudity in the film Blow Up in 1966. And it takes the English publication Penthouse to finally introduce pubic hair into America men's media in1969.
   The new sexuality and permissiveness of the late 1960s embrace total nudity and the advocacy of free love. Feminists burn their bras at the 1968 Miss America pageant, and millions elect to go braless.
   Nowhere is the new permissiveness of the late 1960s and early 1970s more freely expressed than at the counterculture art fair and large open-air rock concert, where toplessness, bottomlessness, nudity and even public sex go unchallenged. These members of the Woodstock Nation span all ages, and their tendency to endorse the sexual revolution also contributes to their naturalism. They range from the girl in the apartment next door, who doffs her top at a secluded pond Upstate, to hippies and biker chicks at rock music festivals.
   But women in general are reluctant to follow their lead at the beach or the pool. Outside of nudist enclaves on Fire Island and the more secluded areas of the California coast among friends, topless or nude sunbathers are bushwhacked by police in the wild, and self-censored in family media. Sports Illustrated's Annual Swimsuit issues start featuring models that are topless after 1983, but these beauties always face away from the camera or hold their hands over their breasts. The fashion magazine Vogue does little more, although it occasionally offers a frank expression.
   Meanwhile, on the beaches of France, the maillot rolldown (aka maillot de roulè), in which a maillot is rolled down to topless, emerges at a competitor to the topless bikini.
   Finally, in 1992 the Topfree Seven women in New York emerge victorious in a protracted legal battle to go topless in New York, when the state Supreme Court rules women have equal rights in the matter. But even in New York, topless matures slowly, largely because men can't handle it. Those who do, like their already topless European counterparts, often opt for the most minimal bikini, the topless tanga or g-string (1995-2000).

The Dichotomy of Open-up Cover-up
   Reductionism as a trend of the 1960s and 1970s invokes exposures quite varied from the flagrant stripping to expose more flesh area, the so-called string bikini vector. Reduction also includes exposures of considerable less flesh, except that the flesh that is covered is more thinly veiled. This peek-a-boo look is accomplished with a variety of new materials: fishnet, crochet, see-through, chain mail, and Spandex. "No cover, No Minimum" titles Playboy. "The No-Bra Look," says Life.
   Fashion magazines like Vogue and Bazaar herald these diversions more in the vein of art-fashion than the beach, as designers Andre Correges and Paco Rabanne rush to introduce loose-fitting plastic chain-mail camisoles, bras, halters, and bandeaux that encourage glimpses of the anatomy underneath (fig. 23-6, RS69). In the movies, Fellini's costume designers for Satyricon posture the metallic cutout bra (SY6910) as a costume of Roman times.
   In truth, a lot more crochet bikinis are sold than are ever worn to the beach. What does migrate from the pages of the popular press into reality is a more casual display of the breast. The 1960s evolves a propensity to bralessness and a free-moving breast inside the shirt. Skirts that are looser-fitting invite nipple peeks down armholes and shirt-tops. The fashion fringe then discovers see-through and transparent blouses. Allegedly invented by Rudi Gernreich, the inventor of the topless maillot, the more covered see-through blouse allows the full figure to be viewed through the gauze of material (fig. 23-5). The see-through is not a look for the timid. Translucency--somewhere between opaque and the Emperor's New Clothes--allows the body to be covered, yet completely exposed. Ironically, the transparent and semi-transparent blouse is a more public garment than the bikini and because it is more covered-up overall, it can be less covered.
   Another manifestation of the open-up/cover-up dichotomy are swimsuits that expose the absolute maximum amount of belly, but cover up the rest of the body, including the chest, legs and arms, and which have high necks, hoods, and long sleeves (VG7110) or pantaloons (VG6710).
Natives in the modern world.
   1966--AIP makes the last variations on the beach party movie, The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini. And they introduce a Vincent Price twist on the format with Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine and Dr. Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs. Woody Allen spoofs James Bond and reviews a line of bosomy and bare-bellied bikini-clad beauties in Casino Royale.
   1966--Bruce Brown's independent movie Endless Summer documents the experience of surfing.
   1966--Raquel Welch dons "the first bikini" in One Million Years B.C.
   1966--Jane Fonda appears topless in Playboy.
   1966--Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf brings adult content and profanity to the silver screen.
   1966--Jane Birkin and Gillian Hills display full frontal female nudity in a romp in Blow Up. It is the first pubic hair in the post-Hays Code cinema.
   1966--Viven Merchant explores abortion in the movie Alfie.
   1966--Masters and Johnson publish Human Sexual Response.
   1966--First pornographic film loop peeps are introduced in Times Square. The images include dancing girls with bare breasts and uncovered pubic hair.
   1967--In France Roland Barthes publishes The Fashion System, a seminal work in bikiniology.
   1967--The first topless sunbathers appear at the Byblos Hotel in St. Tropez, in the south of France. The movement seeps up from the naturalist beaches west of town, and the Byblos accommodates the monokini by building a solarium, surrounded by bushes, near the pool. The topless movement receives an endorsement by film star Brigitte Bardot and flourishes; within 10 years not going topless at St. Tropez is gauche.
   1967--Performance artist Charlotte Moormon is arrested for indecent exposure while playing the cello topless.
   l967--Mary Quant's miniskirts produce a dramatic rise in the sale of pantyhose. Ellen Melinkoff (in What We Wore): "Pantyhose edited legs. They hid the hair, the blotches, the cellulite. They were emancipation."
   1967--The Rolling Stones are forbidden to sing "Let's Spend the Night Together" on the Ed Sullivan Show.
   1967--A restraining order is issued against Titicut Follies, a documentary made by Frederick Wiseman about the Bridgewater Massachusetts mental institute.
   1967--The United States Supreme Court declares that laws prohibiting marriage between people of different races is unconstitutional.
   1967--Hollywood shows women kissing on screen in The Fox.
   1967--Offscreen cunnilingus is implied between Oliver Reed and Carol White in the film I'll Never Forget What's 'Is Name.
   1967--The Swedish film I Am Curious (Yellow) brings hardcore sex to American art theaters.
   1967--Twiggy rules. Small, flat breasts are in.
   1968--André Courrèges introduces see-through sweaters.
   l968--Feminist protesters burn their bras at the Miss America Contest.
   1968--Television star Marlo Thomas stops wearing a bra on the TV series That Girl.
   1968--Ann Landers invents the "pencil test"--if a pencil stays put held under the breast then a bra was recommended for support.
   1968--The MPAA invents the rating system for movies: G, GP, R, X. The first movie to get an X rating is Greetings.
   1968--An interracial kiss occurs on Star Trek when two players are forced to kiss under the mind control of an evil tyrant.
   1968--Pope Paul VI condoms the birth control pill in an encyclical.
   1969--Jim Brown and Raquel Welch simulate the first interracial sex in the movie 100 Rifles.
   1968--Offscreen fellatio is implied between Lisa Minnelli and Albert Finney in Charlie Bubbles.
   1969--The word "bikini" is added into the dictionary, 23 years after its introduction. It is one of the few words which is the same in every language.
   1969--The micro miniskirt demonstrates the extreme of the miniskirt, a garment worn so high that seating without showing panties is functionally impossible.
   1969--Southern Californians Hoyle Schweitzer and Jim Drake fuse a surfboard and a sail and invent windsurfing.
   1969--Penthouse magazine is introduced into the United States. It is the first mass circulation newsstand magazine to show pubic hair.
   1969--Glenda Jackson plays nude lesbian scenes in a film adaption of D. H. Laurence's Women in Love.
   1969--Male full frontal nudity reaches Hollywood: Robert Foster in Medium Cool, Alan Bates and Oliver Reed in Women in Love.
   1969--Oh! Calcutta opens in New York, and glorifies naked male and female actors on stage.
   1969--The Supreme Court, writing in Eisenstadt v. Baird, extends the Griswold right of privacy to single individuals, banning a law that forbids non-married individuals access to contraceptives.
   1969--New York City police raid Stonewall, a New York City gay bar, prompting three days of riots in what is often held to be the origin of the gay-rights movement.
   1969--Post-war West Germany repeals Law #175 prohibiting homosexual conduct. The law had been used by the Nazis during the World War II to incarcerate and exterminate gay men.
   1969--Massage parlors which are really fronts for hand or oral sex open in Times Square, New York.
   1970--Rudi Gernreich invents the topless evening dress, a full-length turtleneck collared t-front affair that leaves both breasts bare. He further advocates unisex fashions, dressing male and female models in identical clothes and shaving their heads and pubic hair.
   1970--Lynn Redgrave and Robert Hooks perform cinema fellation in Last of the Mobile Hot-Shots.
   1970--Midnight Cowboy becomes the first and only X-rated film to win an Academy Award.
   1970--Female-male rape is depicted in Hollywood cinema: Raquel Welch rapes Roger Herren in Myra Breckinridge.
   1970--First live couples sex shows in Times Square, New York, at the Mine-Cine Theater.
   1970--The President's Commission Report on Obscenity and Pornography is published.
   1970--The TV show The Odd Couple features the first lead characters who are divorced.
   1970--Russ Meyer's "nudie-cutie" Beyond the Valley of the Dolls stars the statuesque Edy Williams, Meyer's third wife and business partner.
Halter Shorts
Raquel Welch Halter Nombril Bikini 1967
Raquel Welch Halter Nombril Bikini 1967
Jacqueline Bisset String Halter Nombril Bikini
Tractor Driver Bikini Florida Postcard
Yellow Sidetie Bikini
Mariso Mell Halter Dress
Sidetie Bikini Posterior Rugage Butt Crack
Raquel Welch Bikinis
Raquel Welch
Raquel Welch Bikini Underwear
Raquel Welch One Million Years B.C. Bikini
Americana Bikini
Raquel Welch Magic Christian Bikini
Russ Meyer Orgissimo Beyond The Valley of the Dolls Bikini
Ursula Andress & Jean-Paul Belmondo Bikini
Manuscrit trouve a Saragosse Pasties
Pasties Nombril Bikini
St. Tropez & Riviera
St. Tropez & Riveria
Brigitte Bardot Bikini
Brigitte Bardot
Brigitte Bardot Topless
Topless Bikini
Maillot Tanga
Jane Fonda Topless
Woodstock Nation
Woodstock Nation
Upstate New York
Upstate New York
Late 1990s
Late 1990s