Friday, October 08, 2010

Coffee Shops and the Bikini Anniversary

This summer, I saw a news item about the 64th anniversary of the bikini (though one source argues that the Romans really invented it), and began to contemplate its connections to geography -- specifically to the the geography of coffee. The connection is not obvious, unless one considers the geography of coffee shops and the long-standing associations and suspicions related to coffee, romance, and sexuality. From the evolution of the Starbucks maiden to the emergence of "steaming" espresso shops in the Northwest, Chile, and elsewhere, the field for research is as rich as a frothy cappuccino, which is why it took me three months to write this post!

Louis Réard is thought to be one of the 100 most influential people in fashion, in large part because of his introduction of the two-piece bathing suit in July 1946. In Paris, just a year after the end of devastating war, he decided it was time for a bold fashion statement (decades before that became a cliché). He was so sure that Micheline Bernardini would make a splash in his new design that he used fabric covered in newspaper headlines.

In Cossie Oscars, Australian writer Maggie Alderson explains what she sees as the proper role of bikinis and other swimwear in movies, and provides her list of the ten most memorable cinematic swimwear moments, from Ursula Andress to Jude Law. Of course Deborah Kerr's "cossie" (this is Aussie slang for swimsuits) in From Here to Eternity is mentioned as memorable, if dowdy.

In A Little Skin with Your Latte?, NPR's Heather Murphy compares the bikini barista scenes in Seattle and Santiago. Her blog post follows Sara Lerner's Leg Up story, which examines both the cultural clash over the shops themselves and the argument that they provide economic opportunities that young women may may have a difficult time matching elsewhere. I have recently expanded my Coffee & Tea Romance page -- which explores licit and illicit sexual and sensual aspects of coffee, as well as the various roles -- by turns provocative and misogynist -- of sex and gender in coffee marketing.  


Related to all of this is the evolution of the Starbucks logo, which began as something quite earthy and became increasingly sexless over time. Starbucks Logo Mania presents the history of the Starbucks logo in general, with quite few unauthorized and quite interesting variations. How the Starbucks Siren Became Less Naughty is focused more specifically on the puritanical direction it has taken over the decades. Finally, in The Mermaid, Heinz Insu Fenkl discusses the origins of the Starbucks siren in the context of a fascinating examination of mermaids and related figures from quite a variety of mythologies and traditions.

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