17 Most Iconic Bikini Photos of the Last 75 Years
July 5 marks the 73rd birthday of the bikini. We’re honoring that with a retrospective of the most iconic bikini pics over the years.
Phoebe Cates in Fast Times
In 1982’s Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Phoebe Cates emerged from a swimming pool in this red bikini, launching her film career.
Jaclyn Smith being angelic
In one of the very first publicity photos for the television show Charlie’s Angels, which began its run in 1976, Jaclyn Smith poses in a bikini as Kelly Garrett (the glamorous one), along with Farrah Fawcett as Jill Munroe (the athletic one), and Kate Jackson as Sabrina Duncan (the brainy one). And just like that, we have the urge to check in with these brilliant first-wave feminist quotes.
Britt Ekland in The Man With The Golden Gun
She wasn’t the first Bond Girl, but in 1974, Swedish model and actress Britt Ekland made a splash in the James Bond film, The Man With The Golden Gun, playing Mary Goodnight, a newbie field operative who manages to make some truly brilliant and remarkably high-tech decisions while wearing a bikini. You’ll want to avoid these common mistakes the next time you’re on the hunt for a flattering swimsuit.
Bo Derek in 10
Playing Dudley Moore’s character’s fantasy girl in the 1976 movie, 10, Bo Derek brought cornrow braids into the beachside mainstream and may have invented the “running on the beach” trope that launched the careers of many a Baywatch girl.
Gloria Stratten as the pinup with the tragic epilogue
Twenty-year old Dorothy Stratten was on her way to stardom when her estranged husband murdered her on August 14, 1980. The one-time Playmate of the Year may be best-remembered in this image of her in a bikini.
The Blue Lagoon
Brooke Shields (with Christopher Atkins, playing, shipwrecked teens) wore bikinis throughout 1980’s The Blue Lagoon, although she did stop bothering to wear the top pretty early on.
Goldie Hawn as the Laugh-In Go-Go Dancer
Wearing nothing more than a bikini and body paint in 1969, Goldie Hawn giggled and go-go danced her way into an impressive career as an actress that’s lasted more than 50 years so far.
Carrie Fisher’s famous bikini moment
In 1983’s Star Wars Episode VI – Return Of The Jedi, Carrie Fisher wore this gold bikini as the slave of Jabba The Hut and created a fantasy for teenaged boys that continues to this day. Fisher wrote in her biography The Princess Diarist of the bikini, “When [director George Lucas] showed me the outfit, I thought he was kidding and it made me very nervous. I had to sit very straight because I couldn’t have lines on my sides, like little creases. No creases were allowed, so I had to sit very, very rigid straight.” If Fisher were still alive, she would likely agree that we should banish the phrase “bikini body” from our vocabulary.
It’s hard to pick the most iconic Princess Diana bikini pic…
…but these three, from 1988, 1990, and 1993, respectively are at the top of our list. Don’t miss these 12 facts about Princess Diana that simply are not true.
The days of “heroin chic”
Kyle Ericksen/Penske Media/Shutterstock
In this 1993 photograph, Kate Moss cemented her role as designer Calvin Klein’s muse while showing off a teeny tiny body in a teeny tiny bikini that launched a decade of extreme dieting. But here’s why fad diets don’t work.
Halle Berry wore a bikini with a utility belt in 2002’s Bond film, Die Another Day, but it wasn’t the first time a Bond girl had packed a weapon into her swimsuit…
The original utility bikini
Halle Berry’s Die Another Day look was actually an homage to the look first sported by Bond-girl Ursula Andress in 1962’s Dr. No.
The bikini that won over a prince
Malcolm Clarke/Daily Mail/Shutterstock
Back in March 2002, the former Kate Middleton (now Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cambridge) modeled a black bikini beneath an illusion-lace dress for a college fashion show and reportedly her future husband, His Royal Highness Prince William of Cambridge, began to think of his friend in an entirely new light.
Cameron Diaz defying tropes
Playing Natalie Cook in 2003’s Charlie’s Angels – Full Throttle, Cameron Diaz took on all the tropes of the original Charlies Angels television show, becoming the glamorous one, the athletic one, and the brainy one, all in one. Looking for a new swimsuit? Start with these best swimsuits for every body type.
Ron C Angle/BEI/Shutterstock
In the summer of 2004, tennis star, Venus Williams, reinvented the look of her namesake, the goddess, Venus, as it had been depicted since the 17th century. No longer bashful and soft, this Venus is brazen and shredded.
Not to be outdone…
Ron C Angle/BEI/Shutterstock
Let’s not forget that the Williams sisters are highly competitive, not just with others, but with one another. A few months after Venus’s iconic photo opp, on January 2005, Venus’s sister, Serena Williams, also a tennis star, strikes a glamorous pose on a Melbourne, Australia beach.
Ashley Graham made history as the first plus-size model to grace the cover of the iconic Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue in 2016. She’s seen here cheekily posing with the cover. These empowering swimsuit photos will now remind us that there isn’t just one “bikini body.”