Fashion would be very different if Rudi Gernreich hadn’t dispensed of the bikini top, created sultry 60s dresses and pushed the boundaries of acceptable levels of nudity.
France had Courrèges, London had Mary Quant and Los Angeles had the Austrian-immigrant, Rudi Gernreich. While all three designers in their own right broke rules and developed a unique aesthetic, the one thing they shared was their embodiment of a new style and liberation of form that, in turn, reflected on the new place of women in society. As Quant cut the length of dresses Gernreich produced the monokini, a topless swimsuit that proceeded to get banned from the conservative American seaside. He is also credited with innovation in textiles, like his use of vinyl.
Earlier this year, Cameron Silver, owner of legendary LA vintage emporium, Decades, curated an exhibition of Gernreich’s work and legacy, ‘The Total Look’, at MoCA. Now revivalists have taken heed of his work and the label will go back to its roots and produce clothes once again. Dazed Digital asked vintage connoisseur, Cameron Silver, about his thoughts on Gernreich and the relaunch. Dazed Digital: Why do you think Rudi Gernreich's legacy has been so instrumental in contemporary fashion? Cameron Silver: When you look at Rudi Gernreich’s DNA as a designer it is totally about modernity. He really liberated women from a very anachronistic way of dressing, as proposed by Dior and his 'New Look'. Gernreich created 'The Total Look'.
DD: How did Gernreich's designs impact fashion? Cameron Silver: He is the textbook designer for all designers: he proposed military, androgyny, colour blocking, sheer fabrics... and all before his contemporaries. DD: What do you think of the fact that the Gernreich name will once again be producing new designs? Cameron Silver: I have known about this project for over a year and have always been enthusiastic about the Rudi Gernreich name and design aesthetic having a 21st century revival. DD: Do you think any brand re-launched posthumously can ever have the same impact? Cameron Silver: It's worked with so many other designers like Balmain, Chanel, and Christian Dior. However it has been disastrous with Halston, Norman Norell, and Ossie Clark. Anything is possible and I have faith.