Wednesday, 4 July 2012

beach and sportswear forebears


After 6 long years and more than 18 million euros spent
on, the Villa Romana del Casale, the ancient imperial villa
hosting the largest collection of artistic Roman mosaics
in the world, reopens tonight in Piazza Armerina, Sicily,
to proudly show its unique treasures.


Built on the 4th century by a wealthy retired man who
hired several African artists mastering the art of mosaic,
the villa is one of the 44 UNESCO World Heritage sites in
Italy and it's universally known for the ”Chamber of the
Ten Maidens” where the so-called  ”bikini girls” are
depicted playing ball games and exercising in clothing
that can be only described as bikinis in the earliest
visual documentation of the precursor of both 
sportswear and beachwear.


The focus of censorship for centuries, the first two-piece
swimsuit dates back to 1913 when Carl Jantzen designed
it for the brand he came to found in Portland, Oregon,
while the modern bikini was reinvented only after World
War II by French engineer Louis Réard who named
it after the atoll where an atomic bomb was tested
presuming its coming would be as turbulent 
as a bomb explosion.


The oldest swimsuits, or better, workout sportswear items
shine back after the hard work of cleaning and color
restoring done by a team of fifty restores from all over
Europe that came to remove debris and algae from
the 4,100 square meters floor mosaics.
Art, history and fashion stride hand in hand 
throughout time.


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