The culotte nombril lowers the waistline and bares the navel (KG6030). In its initial incarnation it is characterized by a relatively straight and horizontal waistline that lies below the navel, and a legline that is horizontal with, or ascends only slightly from the crotch. The resultant side of the culotte always has some depth to it (JW6410, DN8302, LB840M, fig. 16-4).
Nombril is differentiated from the panty culotte, which precedes it in history, in that it rides low on the pelvis and reveals the navel, whereas the panty cut does not. It is the nombril which ensures that a two-piece swimsuit is a bikini and not a deux-pièces.
At its extreme, nombril bares the tips of the pubic bone and, in the back, the sacral dimples. Its ascendancy is so correlated to the bikini that it is often called a bikini brief.
Although in bikini terms the nombril is strictly a post-war phenomena, it is a silhouette worn in antiquity (PAS300), the harems of the Sultan (EG188810), in vaudeville and burlesque (AZ191710), and by topless Paris showgirls (BM191210).
In the post-war era the nombril, being a necessary component of the bikini, derives from the late 1940s creations of Louis Réard, the first bikinier. In fact, Réard's richness in designing is by no means confined to the nombril; his early designs include sideties and other species that will not emerge on the beach for another 20 years.
The nombril silhouette gathers visibility in the 1950s, where it is the costume of choice for starlets (UA5410) and pinup girls. It is a period in which bare breasts and other more intimate parts are forbidden in men's magazines. Marilyn Monroe is a willing example (MM5101). Fashion also drives nombril waistlines lower (EL5701, CR5710); by the middle 1950s the species also appears in underwear (JL5701).The nombril presents itself as an alternative to the lattice-side, which bares the side of the hip (PT5340), although occasionally both silhouettes are combined (RS7102). Among the most conspicuous of the first bikiniites is Bridget Bardot, The Bikini Girl (BB5201, BB5310). Another early adopter is the always-willing Swiss teen model Ursula Andress, who builds a successful career around the nombril and will wear it into international perfection in Dr. No (UA6310).
The Mature Silhouette
In more conservative America, the nombril does not impact mass media until the early 1960s, where it is catalyzed by the likes of Sandra Dee (SD6310) and Annette Funicello in beach movies like Bikini Beach (AP6420) and Beach Blanket Bingo. But these initial and somewhat modest exposures of the California surf crowd (SS6410) are shamed by a new breed of bikini-clad starlets like Joan Collins (JC5510) and Raquel Welch (RW196510), and the nameless (SS6520, SS6530), who are relentless about exposing their belly buttons and driving the sides of their bottoms narrower and narrower (SS6510).
Less-conservative and more established international stars who are equally prepared to make navel displays follow suit. This long list includes the likes of Elizabeth Taylor (ET6401), Sophia Loren (SL6310), and Marilyn Monroe (MM6050), who has modeled bikinis continuously since the late 1940s but whose stature as a star/icon and forays into nudity eclipse her reputation as a bikini girl.
All of these media depictions serve to promote nombril on the public beach, where it becomes commonplace by the early 1970s (JR7301).
The limits of the nombril are not reached until the late 1970s (CR7910, RV7922-23). Throughout the 1960s the legline has risen from horizontal at the crotch to an upward diagonal. Simultaneously the waistline has relentlessly pressed lower, retreating below the crest of the ilium to the point where it begins to expose the top of the pubic hair (CT7810) and the posterior rugae. Critics are dismayed, and the low-waistlined bikiniites enjoy one of those moments of ambiguity, when it is difficult to perceive their true intent (WB8413, WB8414). Needless to say, the physics of the swimsuit do dictate a limit below which bottoms literally fall off, no matter how much a wearer is willing to either depilate herself or show hair.
The final moments of the nombril are reached as lowering waistline and rising legline collide, creating a cloud of species including the sidegather, sidetie, sidering, sidestrap and ultimately, the pure string culotte. All of these remain nombrilesque, and playful with hairage and rugage.
By the early 1980s nombril's influence gives way to the v-kini and a different kind of tensionings of the brief. But other late 1980 and early 1990 species including the adjustable, the rolldown, and even the late 1990s boy shorts, all retain the belly-down nombril influence.
And even amidst the evolution, the pure nombril silhouette remains a perennial species, and because of its extreme flexibility it is seen combined with all species of soutien-gorge (SPA010).
A low, straight waistline, exposed belly button, and low legline are the characteristics of the nombril species.