Louis Réard (1897 – 16 September 1984) was a French automobile engineer who invented the bikini in 1946.
Although Réard was an engineer, he was running his mother's shoe shop Les Folies Bergères in Paris by 1946. Reard and Jacques Heim, his rival designer, were competing to produce the world's smallest swimsuit. Heim developed his swimsuit and called it the "atom" and advertised it as "the world's smallest bathing suit."
In 1946 Réard introduced the bikini. His swimsuit was basically a bra top and two inverted triangles of cloth connected by string and it was significantly smaller. Made out of a scant 30 inches of fabric, he promoted his creation as "smaller than the world's smallest bathing suit." He called his creation the bikini, named after the Bikini Atoll. The idea struck him when he saw women rolling up their beachwear to get a better tan.