Rudi of the sixties 2

Fashion · Visual arts

SeeThroughTopNot Rudolf Nureyev — although Rudi N also swung very hard in the sixties.

Our guy is Rudi Gernreich (1922-1985) the Vienna-born, Los Angeles-based fashion designer known for his zestful, pared down aesthetic. His clothes celebrated the youth and action in American culture.

Gernreich’s look screams swinging sixties. Today, the clothes remain clean, classy, and even classic.

Beyond his outerwear, Gernreich was a lingerie designer — who urged bralessness!  He eschewed bones, wires, padding and other claptrap of the atomic fifties. The Gernreich woman was natural and free — a Californian.

An Angeleno, he cared for swimwear. He made this fabulous geometric swimsuit. He is most renowned for the topless version.

Gernreich also experimented in new fabrics and materials, including plastic. That white mini dress in the photo is just totally fantastic. Roll over, Mondrian!

Gernreich will be honored at a benefit for the Museum of California Design held Sunday, November 22 at a private home in the Hollywood Hills. How great does that sound?

A very handsome man and a gay activist before his time, Gernreich also had a dance background. He performed with Lester Horton here in L.A. In fact, he was greatly inspired by movement and dancewear — leotards, tights, stretchy fabrics, and lots ‘o leg showing.

Director William Claxton‘s 1967 video, “Basic Black,” featuring Gernreich muse Peggy Moffitt modeling his fashions, will be screened on Sunday. Moffitt, still in fine fettle, will attend the event.

Photo credits: William Claxton LLC, Courtesy of Demont Photo Management/Fahey Klein Gallery; Time, Inc.

2 thoughts on “Rudi of the sixties

  1. Lauren Braun Nov 11,2009 3:30 pm

    Fabulous! I started an image collection when I was in college — totally obsessed with the British Mod style of the 60’s — Peggy Moffitt, Twiggy, Mary Quant, etc. etc.

  2. Emma Lewis Thomas Nov 11,2009 12:59 pm

    I wore his stuff in the ’60s. Then had the perfect dancer’s body, braless, for his dresses and tights. Am now trying to wean my granddaughters away from the punishing underwire (at 15?) padded bras that they gobble up at Target…

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