memories of the ’70s – the thong swimsuit

“No one has freed the body like Rudi Gernreich”, said the editor of French Vogue in 1967.

The Austrian-born, California-based fashion designer made his mark in fashion, first with the scandalous monokini in the late 1960s and in 1974 with the thong swimsuit.

Gernreich’s early days had been dedicated to dance and was fascinated with the way fabric draped the human body. In the 1960s he became part of  a wave of futuristic design that got rid of the rigid shaping of old and looked to sleek and streamlined proportions that came from the natural female form.

Designed with a bit of shock value, Gernreich’s creation first graced the pages of Vogue Magazne in 1975, photographed by Helmut Newton, who would become well-known for his photography of the female form.

Beauty Now, Vogue Magazine 1975, photograph by Helmut Newton

And although Gernreich’s style would be adopted as a country-wide style in Brazil, his fashion career soon faded after this, with his designs known more as novelties. But for the world of women’s clothing, his swimsuit creations changed the way the world thought about what a bathing suit should look like.

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About Waheeda Harris

A pop culture junkie with a penchant for exploring our planet.
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