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Skirball Cultural Center
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Fearless Fashion: Rudi Gernreich

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Los Angeles fashion designer Rudi Gernreich (1922–1985) introduced the “monokini,” the thong, unisex caftans, pantsuits for women, and enough inventive and fearless clothing to earn him a worldwide reputation as one of the most prominent designers of his time. Fearless Fashion: Rudi Gernreich explores the visionary and progressive ensembles that transcended rigid social expectations and championed authenticity above all.

A Viennese Jew, Gernreich fled the Nazi regime and immigrated to the U.S. in 1938. The exhibition examines the circumstances that enabled Gernreich to grow into a trailblazing designer, from his early career with the Lester Horton Dance Theater to his role as a founding member of The Mattachine Society, a gay rights organization. It shows how Gernreich dovetailed his personal background with his design vision to champion freedom of expression.

The exhibition features over eighty Gernreich ensembles, along with accessories, original sketches, photographs, ephemera, and newly filmed interviews of friends and colleagues. All mannequins for this exhibition were custom produced with flat feet—a deviation from industry standard. Flat feet were a design feature Gernreich emphasized, dressing his models barefoot or in sensible short-heeled or flat shoes. Illustrating how Gernreich challenged conventional notions of beauty, identity, and gender, Fearless Fashion: Rudi Gernreich reveals how the designer redefined style in ways that continue to influence fashion today. You can hear more about this show Tuesday, May 7 at 1:30 pm on DnA, 89.9 FM or at kcrw.com.

Also, don’t miss Fashion Forward: Humberto Leon and Justin Tranter in conversation at the Skirball on Thursday, May 9 from 7:30 – 9:30 pm as they discuss the influence of Rudi Gernreich and explore how fashion can address themes of personal freedom, inclusion, and diversity.  Arrive early to view the exhibition Fearless Fashion: Rudi Gernreich which will be open to ticket holders from 6:00 to 7:30 pm. Cocktails and light fare will also be available for purchase. You can get tickets here, $15, free for members.