Rudi Gernreich (American, born Austria, 1922–1985)
Pink wool jersey, clear vinyl
Ivory wool jersey, clear vinyl
Gift of Léon Bing and Oreste F. Pucciani, 1988 (1988.74.2a–e, 1988.74.1a–f)
Moving away from the formality of Paris-based haute couture, fashions of the 1960s developed along more youth-driven lines of development. Inspired in part by a belief in the utopian possibilities of technology, Gernreich's crisply geometric designs were an American corollary to the architectonic futurism of André Courrèges, Pierre Cardin, and Paco Rabanne in Paris. As early as the 1950s, Gernreich was reimagining the ideal silhouette with his swimwear designs which dispensed with interior bras and other typical New Look structure. In 1964, he pushed boundaries further with the introduction of a topless swimsuit, the "Monokini." His focus on and exploration of nudity as a design element is also displayed through the clear plastic windows of these dresses. The A-line silhouette that typified much of 1960s fashion is rendered here in hot pink and ivory double-faced wool jersey. Each ensemble consists of matching bikini underpants and leggings with clear plastic panes like those on the dresses. These Gernreichs were icons of the era, featured on the cover of Time magazine for December 1, 1967 and shown to Pop and Mod perfection on the attenuated Léon Bing and Peggy Moffitt.