In May 1946, fashion designer Jacques Heim from Paris released a two-piece swimsuit design that he named the Atome. Like swimsuits of the era, it covered the wearer's navel, and it failed to attract much attention.
Clothing designer Louis Réard introduced his new, smaller design in July. He named the swimsuit after the Bikini Atoll, where the first public test of a nuclear bomb had taken place only four days before. His skimpy design was risque, exposing the wearer's navel and much of her buttocks. No runway model would wear it, so he hired a nude dancer from the Casino de Paris to model it at a review of swimsuit fashions.