September 17, 2017

Where the French launched the bikini

In my continued quest to keep myself busy after having to cancel my 30-year high school reunion at last minute, I ventured out around the 16th arrondissement in search for a monument or two without an enormous queue of people.

La piscine Molitor seemed the perfectly easy and low-key visit. Paris’s legendary pool complex, has been reborn as a glamorous new hotel and summertime hot spot. On the occasion of the European Heritage Days Molitor opened its doors to discover an array of street artists behind the blue cabin doors.

This ocean liner–inspired complex was originally inaugurated in 1929 by two Olympic swimmers, one of whom was Johnny Weissmuller, who later starred as Tarzan.

French designer Louis Réard revealed the real bikini (named after Bikini Atoll) at Paris's Piscine Molitor. He relied on exotic dancer Micheline Bernardini to model the barely-there bather.

But in 1989 the complex closed and, left derelict, became a canvas for graffiti artists. These same artist had been invited to decorate the inside of the little blue changing cabins with their street art.

Now, after a $100 million investment, the Molitor has been resurrected as the city’s latest cool hangout. Today’s Molitor has faithfully replicated its two original pools, as well as the canary-yellow walls and blue changing-room doors, and added a restaurant, a spa by Clarins, and a rooftop garden.

Artists participating in the "Under the Wave" exhibition at the Piscine Molitor are: Balder, Artiste Ouvrier, Fred Calmets, Cadija Costa, Le consortium, Damien Paul Gal, Diadji Diop, FBZ, Indie184, JBC, Kan, Kashink, Kouka, William Laboury, Mademoiselle Maurice, Camen Mariscal, Thomas Mainardi, One Teas, Shuck One, Antoine Stevens, Thom Thom, Remy Uno, Wen-Jié Yang.

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