We recently visited LA’s Skirball Cultural Center to view an exciting fashion exhibit they’re featuring this summer—Fearless Fashion: Rudi Gernreich. Gernreich (1922-1985) was an LA based fashion designer, non-gendered clothing pioneer, and founding member of The Mattachine Society, a gay rights organization.
Gernreich is probably best known for his controversial monokini design, which was essentially a topless, one piece swim suit. Gernreich created this risqué design as a form of protest against our repressive society, causing an uproar amongst the public. The swim suit was ultimately outlawed in several countries and condemned by the Pope but remains an iconic design that is still produced to this day! His ideas about fashion, gender, and sexuality were far ahead of their time, and his directional designs included the first thong swimsuit, a duotard, and unisex kaftans and jumpsuits.
See for yourself what the wild and colorful world of Rudi Gernreich’s fashions were like below, and if you find yourself in the LA area, the Skirball Cultural Center is definitely worth a trip!
Gernreich’s infamous monokini
Gernreich’s professional dance background inspired him to design the duotard
All of Gernreich’s swimsuits were made of wool and produced by a knitwear company