Designer of the topless bathing suit or “monokini” and the “no-bra bra” among other inventions, Rudi Gernreich stood out even during one of the most shocking eras of modern fashion. A flamboyant character, he drifted between art schools and City College in Los Angeles, where he and his mother had moved in 1938 with other Jewish refugees after fleeing Austria.
He joined a modern dance troop after being rejected by the army, and eventually worked himself into the wild fashion design world of the 1960s. Gernreich brought his background in dance to his designs — viewing them as being within a perpetual state of motion.
Introduced by Knoll in 1972, Gernreich’s pillows and quilts epitomized mod design, with their heavy, tessellated geometric patterns.