Recognized as one of the most original, prophetic and controversial American designers of his time, Rudi Gernreich might also be categorized as one of fashion’s bad boys.
Really pushing the boundaries were the monokini and pubikini (you’ll figure that one out) swimsuits that gave a whole new meaning to the term “bikini beach party.”
Less sensational, but pretty startling for the 60s, was the “no-bra.” Manufactured by Lilly of France, it was made of sheer stretch fabric sans lining, underwires or support of any kind which made for a dramatic departure from the panty girdles, Merry Widows and waist cinchers of that restrictive moment.
It’s interesting to note that, half a century later, the iconic photograph of the smoky-eyed model in the abovementioned monokini, often reproduced today, is testament to Gernreich’s legendary collaboration with model Peggy Moffitt and photographer, William Claxton.
On a personal note, much to his credit as a gay activitist, Gernreich was a co-founder of the Mattachine Society, the first sustained homophile organization in the country.