Rudi Gernreich (American (born Austria), Vienna 1922–1985 Los Angeles, California)
Lord & Taylor (American, founded 1826)
Length at CB: 32 1/2 in. (82.6 cm)
Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; Gift of Alice Topp-Lee, 1985
Not on view
Never one to follow the crowd, Rudi Gernreich designed fashion that was shocking as well as ground breaking. Working predominately in knitwear, he later included vinyl and plastics. His designs promoted a "freeing" of the body as well as unified fashion. His "monokini" or topless bathing suit design of 1964 made headlines, bringing his fashions into the spotlight. Following this was a series of innovations, such as the "pubikini", the thong bathing suit, and the collection of “UNISEX" garments. As a designer, Gernreich consistently challenged the boundaries of fashion.
Remembered for his provocative as well as more conservative bathing suits, Gernreich is known for his designs for the water. Taking inspiration from Claire McCardell, Gernreich desired to liberate the body and emphasize its natural form. This ribbed, turtleneck bathing suit is a classic example of his work, for it is a modern silhouette without a constricting internal structure. It is likely that when shown, the designer accessorized the bathing suit with over-the-knee vinyl boots and perhaps, a visor, as he often did.
Marking: Label: "Rudi Gernreich Design for Harmon Knitwear" Label: "Sports & Country Clothes/Lord & Taylor/Fifth Avenue"