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Designer Rudi Gernreich American, born Austria
Manufacturer Harmon Knitwear American

Not on view

The innovative silhouettes that Gernreich introduced were always in dialogue with the zeitgeist, yet the designer tended toward garments that prioritized concept over style. Throughout his career he produced collections that served as commentary on a variety of topics including subversion of gender codes, ideas surrounding uniformity and utopian ideals, and social action, the last an interest that found parallel in his personal life as a founding member of the gay rights group the Mattachine Society. Although the more sensational of these looks earned him acknowledgment as one of the most provocative designers of his epoch, Gernreich consistently introduced comfortable and fashionable clothes that allowed for a range of motion in step with the pace and energy of contemporary life. In particular, his collections for Harmon Knitwear reached a larger mass demographic. Gernreich liked to engage the runway as a mechanism for activism, but he also remained committed to the principle that clothing by necessity should maintain a degree of lightheartedness. This four-armed trompe l’oeil shirtdress attests to this conviction, gently poking fun at the work of another American fashion great: Halston, who had a well-documented proclivity for draped cashmere sweater sets.

Dress, Rudi Gernreich (American (born Austria), Vienna 1922–1985 Los Angeles, California), acrylic, American

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© 2019 Nicholas Alan Cope