Rudi Gernreich at Los Angeles’ MOCA

The enduring collaboration between groundbreaking 60s-70s era designer Rudi Gernreich (oh he of topless bathing suit fame), model and muse Peggy Moffitt, and photographer William Claxton (Moffit’s husband) is the subject of a unique retrospective at Los Angeles’ Museum of Contemporary Art through May 2012.  The exhibition, which features pieces from Moffitt’s own collection- never before displayed in public- was curated by Cameron Silver, fashion historian and owner of the seminal vintage couture boutique Decades.  An Austrian émigré, Gernreich arrived in L.A. in 1938 at the age of 16, working as an assistant in a mortuary of all places before going on to study art and dance, finally settling on fashion design in the late 40s.  A brief stint on 7th avenue left the designer disappointed with American fashion’s tendency to look to Paris rather than home for inspiration, and he returned to L.A., working for sportswear and swimwear manufacturers before setting up his own company in 1960.  The rest, as they say, is history.

The Total Look: The Creative Collaboration between Rudi Gernreich, Peggy Moffitt, and William Claxton runs at the Museum of Contemporary Art Pacific Design Center, Los Angeles, through 20 May 2012. Open Tuesday – Friday, 11am – 5pm & weekends from 11am – 6pm.

Below, a series of iconic photos of Moffitt in Gernreich’s creations, photographed by William Claxton.

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