Rudi Gernreich

Rudi Gernreich
Rudi Gernreich.jpg
Born(1922-08-08)August 8, 1922
Vienna, Austria
DiedApril 21, 1985(1985-04-21) (aged 62)
Los Angeles, California, US
Alma materLos Angeles City College
OccupationFashion designer
Years active1950–1985
Known forDesigner of the monokini
Avant-garde clothing designs
Early supporter of the Mattachine Society
Partner(s)Harry Hay (1950–1952)
Oreste Pucciani (1953–1985; Gernreich's death)

Rudolf "Rudi" Gernreich[1] (August 8, 1922 – April 21, 1985) was an Austrian-born American fashion designer whose avant-garde clothing designs are generally regarded as the most innovative and dynamic fashion of the 1960s. He purposefully used fashion design as a social statement to advance sexual freedom, producing clothes that followed the natural form of the female body, freeing them from the constraints of high fashion.

He was the first to use cutouts, vinyl, and plastic in clothing. He designed the first thong bathing suit,[2] unisex clothing, the first swimsuit without a built-in bra,[3] the minimalist, soft, transparent No Bra, and the topless monokini. He was a four-time recipient of the Coty American Fashion Critics Award. He produced what is regarded as the first fashion video, Basic Black: William Claxton w/Peggy Moffitt, in 1966. He had a long, unconventional, and trend-setting career in fashion design.

He was a founding member of and financially supported the early activities of the Mattachine Society. He consciously pushed the boundaries of acceptable fashion and used his designs as an opportunity to comment on social issues and to expand society's perception of what was acceptable.

Early years

Gernreich was the only child of Siegmund Gernreich and Elisabeth (née Müller) Gernreich, a Jewish couple[4] who lived in Vienna, Austria. His father was a stocking manufacturer who had served in World War I and who committed suicide when Gernreich was eight years old.[5]

Gernreich learned about high fashion from his aunt, Hedwig Müller, who with her husband Oskar Jellinek, owned a dress shop.[5][6][7] He spent many hours in his aunt's shop sketching her designs for Viennese high society and learned about fabrics. He also gained early impressions of sexuality. He later told one of his favorite models, Leon Bing, about images of "leather chaps with a strap running between the buttocks of street laborers' work pants and the white flesh of women's thighs above gartered black stockings."[6] When he was 12, Austrian designer Ladislaus Zcettel saw his sketches and offered Gernreich a fashion apprenticeship in London, but his mother refused, believing her son was too young to leave home.[1]

Jewish refugee

After the German Anschluss (when Nazi Germany annexed Austria) on 12 March 1938, Hitler, among many other acts, banned nudity. Austrian citizens were advocates of exercising nude, a rejection of the over-civilized world.[8] His mother took 16-year-old Rudi and escaped to the United States as Jewish refugees, settling in Los Angeles, California. To survive, his mother baked pastries that Rudi sold door-to-door. His first job was washing bodies to prepare them for autopsy in the morgue of Cedars of Lebanon Hospital. He told Marylou Luther, "I grew up overnight. I do smile sometimes when people tell me my clothes are so body-conscious [that] I must have studied anatomy. You bet I studied anatomy."[6] He attended Los Angeles City College, where he studied art and apprenticed for a Seventh Avenue clothing manufacturer. He attended Los Angeles City College from 1938 to 1941, and the Los Angeles Art Center School from 1941 to 1942.[1][2]

Other Languages
español: Rudi Gernreich
français: Rudi Gernreich
italiano: Rudi Gernreich
Nederlands: Rudi Gernreich
português: Rudi Gernreich