Home of the bikini gets new lease on life

JANE E FRASER
Last updated 09:27 04/06/2014
First bikini
Getty Images
FIRST BIKINI? The bikini makes its debut at the Molitor in 1946.

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The hotel and the summer and winter pools of the Molitor in the 16th arrondissement of Paris, were once the place to be and be seen.

Opened in 1929 by Olympic swimming champion and Tarzan on the silver screen, Johnny Weissmuller, it was known for its art deco design and avant -garde crowd, theatre and fashion shows.  In winter the outdoor pool doubled as an ice rink.

Most famously in July 1946 it was poolside that the  two-piece swimsuit, the bikini, referencing the detonation of the nuclear bomb in the Bikini Atoll in the Pacific days earlier, was unveiled.

The new swimming costume caused a sensation at a beauty contest at the Molitor swimming pool. Designer Louis Reard was unable to find a 'respectable' model for his costume and the job of displaying it went to 19-year-old Micheline Bernardini, a nude dancer from the Casino de Paris.

The bikini, then topless bathing revolution cemented the hotel's place in history.

Closed in 1989 and listed as an historical monument the dilapidated building also became an urban art venue.

Now the Molitor has a new life with the reopening of the hotel and its requisite pleasure pools.

Rebuilt as architect Lucien Pollet imagined in the '20s akin to a cruise ship with portholes, the hotel has kept its exterior facade in yellow tango colour and poolside booths.

Rooms meanwhile contain lithographs referencing the time the once derelict hotel walls were a haven for graffiti artists.

The outdoor summer pool is heated year-round to 28 degrees and the enclosed winter pool, covered by a glass roof and wrapped in mosaic walls, is open to hotel and club guests only.

Just don't forget your bikini.

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- FFX Aus

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