FEARLESS FASHION Rudi Gernreich by Carol Kaufman Segal
Rudolf “Rudi” Gerngreich was born in Vienna, Austria in 1922, an only child of Jewish parents. His father committed suicide when he was 8 years old. After Nazi German annexed Austria in 1938, his mother escaped with Rudy to the United States, settling in Los Angeles. What miraculous forethought!
From 1942 to 1948 he became a dancer and costume designer for the Lester Horton Modern Dance Troupe. He later became a designer for a Los Angeles boutique, and by 1960, he formed Rudi Gernreich, Inc. while still designing swimsuits for other clothing manufacturers.
Gernreich was an exceptionally remarkable designer who as you will see and learn from the comprehensive exhibition on view at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles. He believed in not hiding the body and invented the “monkini,” the topless bathing suit. His idea was that the body should not be hidden and should be free. He believed one should feel free in their clothing and designed swimsuits without built-in bras. His clothes were designed to follow the natural form of a woman’s body, while at the same time, they were comfortable and stylish.
As you will see as you wander through the exhibition, Gerngreich was ahead of his time in the fashion industry. You may even feel that the styles that you see look to be more comfortable that what we find today. Take your time, browse around and learn about this remarkable man who was ahead of his time in the fashion world. Unfortunately, Gerngreich died I 985 at the age of 62.
Fearless Fashion Rudi Gernreich remains on view at the Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles, through September 1, 2019. For further information, go online at www.skirball.org, or call (310) 440-4500.