Monday, Apr. 02, 2012

Rudi Gernreich

Rudi Gernreich appeared on the cover of the Dec. 1, 1967, issue of TIME under the banner headline "The Miniskirt Is Here to Stay." Stay it has, along with many of Gernreich's other era-defining fashions from the 1960s and '70s. (He also helped define the era in other ways; he was a founder of the Mattachine Society, an early gay-rights organization.) Some of his creations still shock — like the monokini, a topless and unisex bathing suit he introduced in 1964 — but others have become commonplace: the thong, for example. Born in Vienna, Gernreich, who was Jewish, came to California in 1938 as a teenage refugee. He immersed himself in modern dance and, when he later moved into the fashion world, he took that influence along with him. His clothes were flexible, stretchy, tight. Those who wore them could really move. During a time of liberation, Gernreich gave women a liberated wardrobe.