Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Fearless Fashion at the Skirball: Rudi Gernreich

Gernreich at Skirball
You know I love fashion. And like many of you, I always check out costume and wardrobe exhibitions at local museums. "Fearless Fashion: Rudi Gernreich" is currently on view at the Skirball Cultural Center, and it's well worth taking in. If you anywhere near Los Angeles, don't miss it. While at the museum, definitely check out their museum store. They offer lots of fabulous fair trade Judaica including Dunitz kippot. (Shameless plug.)

Mod Gernreich Designs
But I digress. Rudi Gernreich was a pioneer in fashion in the 60's and 70's. When you see the clothing on display you'll be reminded of Twiggy. More than Twiggy, this exhibition reminded me of my mom. Joanie M (who I named our fused glass collection after) was a total fashion plate. She would have worn Rudi Gernreich designs in a heartbeat. Or maybe she did. Or for sure, she wore clothing inspired by his creations. See these bright dresses? Much of our fair trade jewelry would coordinate perfectly with some of today's similar mod looks.

Patti & Nancy
Perhaps it was me who wore Rudi look-a-like outfits. Yes, I'm the one that looks like a little boy standing with my best friend Patti. Same neon green. Do you remember culottes? And the oversized zipper. Very Rudi.

Unisex Clothing Styles
The best thing about Rudi Gernreich was his forward thinking visions. He introduced the topless swimsuit, the thong, unisex clothing and pantsuits for women. Ah, pantsuits for women. I'm assuming his equal rights for all attitude evolved after he emigrated to the USA. Gernreich had fled Nazi Germany for being Jewish and later experienced discrimination in the United States for being gay. In Los Angeles, he found community while dancing with the Lester Horton Dance Theater, an interracial dance troupe.

Mixing Fashion with Politics
Opinions. Yes. Quoted. Yes. Quoted on the walls of the Skirball. Yes. Rudi Gernreich was a founding member of the Mattachine Society, a gay rights organization. That was back when many hid their proclivities. Gernreich designed military styled ready-to-wear in protest of the Vietnam war. He designed thong bathing suits for men and women in protest of Los Angeles banning nude beaches. What more details on the life and times of Rudi Gernreich? Read these recent articles from the Los Angeles Times and Women's Wear Daily.

Satin Pantsuit & Pearls
So get on over to the Skirball Cultural Center if you're anywhere near the City of Angels. You won't regret the trip. I can't possibly share in photos the over 80 ensembles featured. The show closes September 1st. (You still have time.) What will amaze you, as it did me, is how so many of the designs are completely wearable today. If only I had my mom's clothing from her 1960's and 1970's closet.  I might find a satin pantsuit like this one.

Dunitz fair trade kippot
Did I tell you to visit Audrey's, the Skirball store? Yes, I did. But, heck, I'm telling you again. There you'll find Dunitz & Company's fair trade kippot. You will love seeing them up close and personal. (Yes, I had to plug for that one more time.) -ND

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