Stories of topless sunbathers in St Tropez seemed like the vanguard of a new movement — as, indeed, they were — by the 1970s, topless sunbathing albeit usually by simply wearing the lower half of a two piece bikini rather than the monokini, thus allowing cover-ups if required was the norm on the continent.
More than that though, it was a sensational idea that caught the imagination of both liberated women and horny men, and was a major news story across the world.
Naturally, the monokini was a controversial invention — the first American model to be photographed wearing one, Peggy Moffat, received death threats and the costume was condemned by religious figures and moralists.
Gernreich was a gay Austrian designer who was opposed to the sexualisation of the body and he wanted to normalise nudity — what better way, then, than to allow women to sunbathe with their breasts exposed? Mamie Van Doren born Joan Lucille Olander; February 6, 1931 is an American actress, model, singer, and sex symbol who is known for being one of the first actresses to recreate the look of Marilyn Monroe.