The 1960s
Innovative, directional, polarizing or downright outrageous, depending on one’s perspective, were the gasp-inducing ideas put forth on both sides of the Atlantic.


Drawing, perhaps, on his earlier training as a civil engineer, French designer, André Courrèges used plastic and metal – materials never before seen in clothing – for strong geometric shapes that were more wearable architecture than anything else.


In a 60s coup de foudre, Courrèges captured the hearts of the young (and the not so much) with the mini skirt which, arguably, he introduced to France. And, in 1964, he launched the “space collection,” with the new-age goggles, crash helmets and moon-raker boots which made it abundantly clear that the “l’aigle had landed” on planet fashion.

André Courrèges
Recognized as one of the most original, prophetic and controversial American designers of his time, Rudi Gernreich might also be categorized as one of fashion’s bad boys.


Really pushing the boundaries were the monokini and pubikini (you’ll figure that one out) swimsuits that gave a whole new meaning to the term “bikini beach party.”


Less sensational, but pretty startling for the 60s, was the “no-bra.” Manufactured by Lilly of France, it was made of sheer stretch fabric sans lining, underwires or support of any kind which made for a dramatic departure from the panty girdles, Merry Widows and waist cinchers of that restrictive moment.


It’s interesting to note that, half a century later, the iconic photograph of the smoky-eyed model in the abovementioned monokini, often reproduced today, is testament to Gernreich’s legendary collaboration with model Peggy Moffitt and photographer, William Claxton.


On a personal note, much to his credit as a gay activitist, Gernreich was a co-founder of the Mattachine Society, the first sustained homophile organization in the country.

Rudi Gernreich

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