No other fashion designer epitomized the sleek, progressive modernism of 1960s Los Angeles quite like Rudi Gernreich. A Viennese Jew born in 1922, Gernreich fled Austria in 1938 and settled in LA, where he embraced the freedom of his new life, first as a dancer with the Lester Horton Dance Theater, and later as a celebrated designer. His fashions reflected a newfound sexual and social liberation: unisex outfits, flowing caftans, pantsuits for women, and his most memorable piece, the bare-breasted monokini. The exhibition Fearless Fashion: Rudi Gernreich, currently on view at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, showcases his trendsetting clothes, presented on egalitarian flat-footed mannequins.
In conjunction with the show, the Skirball is hosting a performance of choreographer Bella Lewitzky’s 1976 dance piece Inscape. Gernreich designed the decor and stretchy costumes for the work, including conjoined-twin style ensembles that linked dancers at the hip or the head, “making them locked in tumbling, antler-locked combat,” as the New York Times described in 1979. The Skirball’s staging features costumes recreated by Diana MacNeil with dancers from Luminario Ballet, and will be followed by a discussion with Lewitzky Dance Company members John Pennington, Diana MacNeil, and Sean Greene.
When: Sunday, June 23, 6pm (tickets $15; free for members)
Where: Skirball Cultural Center (2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd. Brentwood, Los Angeles)
More info at Skirball Cultural Center.