Gernreich’s clothes embody the aspirations and contradictions of his day, especially regarding the role of women as increasingly independent individuals. His knitted fabrics and daringly skimpy cuts emphasized the uniqueness of the individual human body and its movements. Many are reminiscent of a dancer’s practice clothes, not surprising for a designer who worked as a professional dancer and designed his first costumes for dance.
Like many others in the 1960s, Gernreich exploited brilliant new colors and psychedelic patterns sometimes inspired by Op Art and other 1960s trends. Perhaps best known for his swimwear design of the Monokini, the first topless swimsuit, and later the Thong, Gernreich's career was full of 'firsts'.
Here from The Rudi Gernreich Book by Peggy Moffit & William Claxton are a few of Gernreich's firsts.
- Took inner construction out of bathing suits.
- Designed first knitted tube dresses.
- Was the first to use cutouts in clothes.
- First to use vinyl & plastic in clothes.
- Introduced androgyny - men's suits & hats, etc. on women.
- Designed the first see-through clothes.
- Designed the first soft transparent bra - the "no bra" bra.
- Invented body clothes based on leotards & tights.
- Used hardware-zippers, dog leash clasps etc. as decoration.
- Did the first designer jeans.
- Designed the first thong bathing suit.
- First to design men's underwear for women.
Rudi Gernreich Fashions in Basic Black by William Claxton.
Rudi Gernreich launched the No Bra Bra in 1964 at a time when the more structured padded, wired uplift bra was the norm. Gernreich conceived a soft, minimal sheer bra that went along with the often unstructured styles of the time, as well as with the many sheer fabrics and plunging necklines of the sexual revolution in the 1960's. He wanted the woman to be 'free' in clothing and garments in which breasts assumed their natural shape, rather than being molded into an aesthetic ideal. Gernreich produced pared down body-clothes in the 1960's aimed at what seemed to be the new woman of the era, freed of all constraints.
At Glamoursurf, we've recently acquired and listed the infamous 'No Bra' Bra in black from Rudi Gernreich along with some other vintage bras including a circle stitch 50's torpedo bra and some strapless bow bra's. Visit Glamoursurf today for your vintage lingerie!
Also recently acquired at Glamoursurf.com is a mid 50's Rudi Gernreich for Westwood Coral Pink one piece swimsuit. Shown here and on the cover of June 8, 1956 Colliers magazine.