In timely homage to the mini-skirt's return and bathing suit weather, designer Rudi Gernreich, whose stellar contributions to pop culture include the scandalous monokini and the first wave of androgynous unisex clothing, is being shown in full historic glory at Philly's Institute of Contemporary Art this fall. Save the dates and get some inspiration. "Fashion Will Go Out of Fashion" will run from September 15th through November 11.
The one time Time magazine cover boy who shocked the world in 1964 with his topless bathing suit was the first "American" designer (although Vienna born) to raise hemlines way above the knee. Along with the micro-mini, he produced the all the modern accompaniments including colored stockings, vinyl clothing and sheer nylon blouses that have been recycled through the fashion ages countless times
throughout the past four decades. A rebel with a cause, Gernreich remained a visionary in the midst of serious flack from his contemporaries. Gallanos once scoffed "All they've done is chop five inches off a hem and they call it new??!" A snippity Bergdorf's saleslady at the time screeched "Those show-offs who wear dresses to their bottoms know nothing about fashion!" And finally, Norman Norell owned up to the truth about the dawning of the Gernriech era, "To me it's a fascinating, frustrating time to be a designer." For a forward-thinking trailblazer
that revolutionized so many closets during his lifetime, it it interesting to note that Gernreich never openly came out of his own.
Rudi was also quite notably the man who launched the thong (circa 1979) - and pioneered the brave new attitude that body consciousness is key. Through his work, he backed his strong conviction that covering up the body should not be fashion's sole purpose. He designed a "Total Look" series of body conscious wearables that often included matching hosiery, hats, gloves and even underwear. We only hope those Sisqo kids (last summer's "thong song") catch the show and learn a thing or two. The installation will feature a virtual catwalk, more than 125 pieces of the designer's work, a collection of film footage and much archival photography in tribute to his genius.
Remembering Rudi: Clockwise İChrista Zinner: Bathing suits, late 1950s, İNeal Barr: "Total Look" for Harper's Bazaar, İDennis Hopper: A peek inside "Total Look".