Winters Past

20th Century Fashion from Deco to Disco

Designer Spotlight: Rudi Gernreich

Last week I got one of those calls, the kind of call that makes my heart skip a beat.

This time it was an older lady from Miami calling, saying she had some dresses from the 1960s and 70s. When she said the name Rudi Gernreich, I may have hyperventilated a little bit.

A little background: Rudi Gernreich was a true visionary who’s mid century designs look completely modern 50 years later. Have a look:

Boundary breaking designer Rudi Gernreich

He was a forward thinking man who saw the constrictions of 1950s and early 60s clothing and aimed to free women from them. Gernreich, a former dancer, did away with the rigid structure that came from wires and corsets and in their place, created pieces that followed the body’s natural form and allowed women to move freely.

Here is the first of two Gernreich pieces I purchased. It’s made of wool knit and has no inner construction, allowing the wearer to feel both comfortable and sexy. Avant garde in it’s day, it’s perfectly aligned with modern sensibilities.

vintage Rudi Gernreich dress

The 2nd piece, from 1972, features geometric modernist patchwork insets and wears like a comfortable tee shirt.

vintage Rudi Gernreich dress

Here is that first dress (with sleeves) worn by Goldie Hawn on the Tonight Show:

vintage Rudi Gernreich dress

Here is the 2nd one (in a different colorway) worn by longtime Gernreich muse, collaborator and model Peggy Moffett:

vintage Rudi Gernreich dress

Gernreich was a master of self promotion, creating controversy by designing a topless “monokini” among other publicity stunts. His true genius lay in understanding how women want to feel, move and live in their clothes.

Author: Winters Past

I am a vintage clothing shop owner living and working in rural north Florida. I believe in adding a little vinegar and molasses to my greens, having my coffee outside whenever possible, and mixing something vintage into every room and every outfit.

Comments are closed.