The String Bikini Silhouette
Although the nombril is still an important species (CT7810, CR7910), the end of the 1970s marks the emergence of the mature string bikini silhouette into the media and onto the beaches of the world (RS7501). The string bikini fuses the string halter and brief; it deploys strings everywhere--around the chest, around the neck, and around the waist (JR197710). The strings bind on the smallest of coverings and may be tied at the neck, either behind the back or at the center of the chest, and on the side of the briefs. The string bikini is dramatically smaller than anything that preceded it on the beach; it reveals more cleavage, bellage, leggage, rugage than anyone would ever have imagined possible, except perhaps for a primitive person, who managed to stay ahead of time.
The string halter, the top half of this famous silhouette, reduces the bulkier soft-top halter of the late 1960s to a pair of soft cloth triangles and string ties. Lining, underwire, stays or other supports are abandoned. As the 1970s progress the halter continues to shrink in size, and successive seasons introduce a new definition of "small." If the mini-halter fails to cover the swell of the breast to the side or below the nipple, then the spider (BF197640) and micro barely cover the nipple at all. It is not war for the faint-hearted.
As a swimsuit component the string halter predates the string brief by a good 40 years. The string culotte evolves once the lowering waistline and rising legline collide on the side of the hip (BSD8820) and the waistline shoals on the pubic hair (DB8201). It is the end of a 40 year process. The initial 1940s position is characterized by a level waistline above navel, wide sides, and a level legline at or below crotch. Narrowing the width of the bottom fabric at the side of the hips and raising the legline produces first side straps, then fastener variations, knotted fabric, and sideties. These developments are detailed in the early 1970s. Minimization culminates with single elastic cords tied round the hips, jungle style, affixed to a progressively narrower front and a behind that threatens to floss butt . The late 1970s represent the final position and capture a moment of maximum acceleration, but zero velocity (DB8202).
For a moment in time the horizontal waistline hangs below the crest of the ilium, and shouls on the posterior rugae. The inguinal lines of the pubis emerge up above the waistline, whisps of hairage.
Indeed, keeping a bikiniite inside her string is often a non-trivial proposition. Although the highly elastic strings and Lycra stretch fabrics provide foundation and tension in the construction of the garment, threats of nippage, hairage, and buttage haunt the stringed bikiniite. String halters are unstable, easily unfastened, devoid of lining. When wet the thin, single-layer triangles are prone to see-through (RW197610), and showcase erect nipples, a phenomena known as headlights (fig. TC). Not only are breasts prone to fall out, especially when the wearer leans over in a too-loose top (fig. 21-6a), but a more tightly secured top is prone to ride up so that the breasts scoot out below them (fig. 21-6b).
String briefs can also get untied and have been known to fall down.
The string bikini requires that a bikiniite jog in rhythm, and it remains a risky proposition when playing volleyball, or frolicking in the surf, least one not get their briefs swept away. More so than even before, bikini-wearing becomes a demanding activity, requiring constant adjustment if one is to avoid embarrassment.
The String Maillot
The late 1970s also witness a re-energization of the maillot, as suddenly the maillot discovers the string (fig. 29-8). String bikini permissiveness infuses maillot with a variety of wild new exposures that sharply reduce the basic coverage, often with cleavage sliced into from the side, and necklines that plunge below the xiphoid (fig. 29-9). N or is the belly button immune from attack, as steep, plunging necklines strike down to expose it, often with a corresponding narrowed side and maximized breast exposure both in the center and on the sides. This provides at best risky coverage and little support.
Zippers in front reserve some option of adjustment of exposure, but the primary connecting device is string borrowed from its bikini namesake. The new maillot deploys string sides, string neck straps, and even strings holding cleavage in place.
Another maillot development is the introduction of new wrap styles (E79P77, fig. 29-10) as well as a modernization of the 1940s maillot sarong, that utilizes the newest generation of fabrics and construction. These designs also often incorporate the string motif (FI8308).
After decades or dormancy, maillot wakes up, transformed, vulgarized and sexy. Maillot abandons its past, looses mass, and acquires daring.
The individual elements of the string bikini predate it by more than 50 years. From the vantage point of the late 1970s, it appears that the swimsuit has reached its penultimate minimum, the end product of a century of reduction. But "end products" can have a way of not anticipating the future (SS7710).
Interestingly, the hedonism of the string bikini contrasts against a time of more conservative focus and economic difficulties. Religious fundamentalism becomes more strident and advances made by blacks, women and sexualists are checked. Nonetheless, the string bikini style spreads internationally from the beaches of Rio de Janeiro and Europe to both Americas (KR8610), Africa, Australia, Japan, the Near East (except for Muslim women), and the Warsaw Pact nations. Pancultural and truly international, Louis Réard prevails.
When it is introduced, the French call the string "le minimum," failing perhaps to anticipate the topless, the ajustable, and possibly the ultimate string--the topless g-string. But as pure bikini, the string does indeed represent a minimalist extreme; the evolution which comes after, especially the v-kini and tanga, fall into what is called the Postminimalist Era. But it is important to note that the pure string bikini is such a strong, basic silhouette that it has becomes a perennial, seen on beaches worldwide ever since, season after season. Even a designer as creative as Calvin Klein returns 20 years later to showcase its basic silhouette in a famous Kate Moss poster (1994).
But be careful about observing the influence of the string on the silhouettes of the future (see for example the Rio Promo Girls). The late 1970s string silhouette directs focus to the lowering waistline, and by consequence, rugage, bellage, and the fastening and adjustment mechanisms that play out to the sides of the hip (E79P68, LB830N). But its lowered waistline also represents an extreme position, a moment of maximum exposure but zero velocity. The downward movement of the waistline has come to a halt, it can lower no more and if it is to move in the future the only direction is up. The future will reveal than when it does rebound the way in which it moves up (toward the silhouette of the v-kini) will be different than the way it traveled down; furthermore, it will take its newfound strings with it (N197912). Strings will also play a role in a second 1980s development, when adjustable string casings appear in the briefs so that bikiniites can adjust the exposures of their bottoms as well as their tops (fig. 21-13).
More Tanga Murmurings
Leading fashion indicators continue to suggest that a new exposure lies ahead--and that is the complete and total baring of the butt. This subject, introduced in the early 1970s will continue to exhibit a low profile. Rudi Gernreich completes the cycle of male/female and shows how both can wear this creation (RG7910). French Vogue combines a hooded, goggled and otherwise covered-up maillot that bares the butt (FV7601), and American Vogue shows how a modern, obviously rich, woman can sun herself at a private pool while attended to by her servants (V8001).