How the scandalous monokini Rudi Gernreich influenced the sexual revolution and beach habits


How the scandalous monokini Rudi Gernreich influenced the sexual revolution and beach habits

Peggy Moffit in Rudy Gernreich's Monokini

Many things created by fashion designers only fall into trends for a couple of seasons, and then they are forgotten, swept away by new and new collections. But some fashion ideas born in the studio have an impact on entire generations, the development of society and even the course of history – at least fashion history. Today SPLETNIK.RU invites you to remember one such thing – the legendary monokini with open breasts from one of the most avant-garde designers of the 60s, Rudy Gernreich.

Rudy GernreichRudy Gernreich

Rudy Gernreich was born in Vienna in 1922 into a fairly wealthy Jewish family, but at the age of 16 he and his mother Elizabeth had to leave their native Austria, fearing persecution by the Nazis. By that time, the young man had already lost his father, the owner of a large stocking enterprise, – when Rudy was eight years old, he committed suicide.

When this happened, the aunt Hedwig Müller, who kept a clothing store, where mostly wealthy shoppers were bought, took custody of the family. Then Rudy first became acquainted with the world of fashion and became interested in him. His sketches – and they were far from simple children's sketches: Rudy portrayed very extravagant things like swimming trunks on suspenders.

When Germany annexed Austria, Rudy and her mother moved to the USA and settled in Los Angeles – however, the city of dreams was in no hurry to fulfill all the dreams of new immigrants. Elizabeth began to earn by selling home-made cakes, and her son, in order not to be a burden, went to work in … a morgue, where he had to wash the bodies of the deceased. But Gernreich did not leave thoughts about fashion, making up the necessary knowledge bit by bit: he attended lectures on art at a local college, trained in an atelier, and joined the dance troupe, where he took upon himself the creation of stage costumes.

Rudy Gernreich

Since 1951, he began to engage in the creation of his own clothing collections, but Rudi's finest hour fell on the 60s. Although his name today may not be as famous as the names of his other contemporaries like Paco Rabban, it was Gernreich who was the real revolutionary.

He brought several new ideas into fashion at once, including the unisex style (for example, men and women with shaved heads demonstrated his collections), total look (when all the details of the image from clothes to accessories were designed in the same style) and even a trapeze dress he demonstrated back in the 50s, long before Yves Saint Laurent. In addition, Gernreich was one of the first to use unusual materials like vinyl and plastic instead of natural fabrics.

Rudy Gernreich and Peggy MoffitRudy Gernreich and Peggy MoffitRudy Gernreich with models

He was a man from the future, accidentally landed in an era where he could not be appreciated,

– so his muse Peggy Moffit recalled him – in the story with the monokini, she played a key role, and we will talk about her.

Gernreich also transformed beachwear – as early as 1952 he introduced a swimsuit that looked more like a body of dancers – then there were no usual lining, sewn-in sconces and bones. The designer often used elastic fabrics to emphasize the natural curves of the female body.

Models Rudi GernreichRudy Gernreich Swimwear Models

But the real scandal caused a monokini – an open-chest swimsuit that the designer presented in 1964. The thing became not only a logical continuation of the avant-garde ideas of Gernreich, but also a kind of protest against Puritanism and the excessive conservatism of society at that time.

In 1963, Susanna Kirtland, editor of Look magazine, asked Gernreich to come up with some futuristic design for swimwear. The thing was planned to be used in one of the shootings for publication. But when it came to a photo shoot in Montego Bay in the Bahamas, all five hired models refused to star in a monokini. To save the shooting, the photographer had to convince a local prostitute to act as a model. As a result, only one photo was published in the magazine – and that is from the back. But Kirtland convinced Rudi to establish commercial production of this style.

I always did not like that a naked body is considered something shameful. To rob a person of his right to nudity is a kind of fascism. Respecting a woman, as well as a man, means giving them the opportunity to be free in everything,

– said the designer.

<img height = "425" width = "640" src = "” alt=”Rudy Gernreich” title=”Rudy Gernreich”/>

However, it was not enough to invent a swimsuit – it was still necessary to introduce it to the public. There were no people wishing to demonstrate such an extravagant style for their time. At about the same time, Rudy became acquainted with the model of Peggy Moffit – she became the real muse of the designer and practically the face of the fashion of the 60s – the famous haircut of that era with the graphic long bangs of Peggy was created by the famous Vidal Sassoon.

Peggy Moffit "src =" Moffit

A photo of Moffit in a scandalous swimsuit was published in Women's Wear Daily in the summer of 1964. The question of how the survey went was for many years the most popular among those asked by the model journalists. She passed, however, quite decently – the photographer was the husband of Peggy William Claxton. By the way, all three actively collaborated in the future, and Claxton shot many photo shoots for Gernreich with Moffit as a model.

Peggy Moffit "src ="

The publication expectedly caused a scandal – the church, political parties and all decent society took up arms against the designer, although the nuns in department stores also began to buy up (they still did not dare to wear, but the forbidden thing was alluring fashionistas too).

In the summer of 1964, more than 3,000 monokini were sold in New York (each cost $ 24), but Peggy Moffit was rumored to even receive threatening letters.

<img height = "640" width = "425" src = "” alt=”Peggy Moffit and Twiggy” title=”Peggy Moffit and Twiggy”/>Peggy Moffit and Twiggy

But overseas, in Europe, the invention of Gernreich took much more warmly. The designer immediately had followers – fashion designer Ruben Torres created his copy of the monokini, the presentation of which took place in Paris. By the way, a fashionable novelty was presented in the same Piscine Molitor pool, where another beach fashion revolution took place in 1946 – it was there that the bikini was first shown to the public. In this monokini, the model Daphne Dale posed, and Paul Schutzer became the photographer.

<img height = "640" width = "425" src = "” alt=”Daphne Dale” title=”Daphne Dale”/>Daphne Dale<img height = "640" width = "425" src = "” alt=”Daphne Dale” title=”Daphne Dale”/>

However, as the swimsuit of the monokini Gernreich in its original form still did not take root, but it influenced fashion in another way – women began to sunbathe topless.

In addition, a bold style had a strong influence on the sexual revolution, emphasizing the personal freedom of women in clothing. Peggy Moffit’s snapshot provoked another rise in feminism and discussions about whether women should be allowed to bare their upper body as freely as men can.


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