In 1970, Life magazine invited Rudi Gernreich (1922 – 1985) to envision what people would wear a decade in the future. He extended his prediction to the year 2000, illustrating men and women in matching ensembles with heads either shaved or wigged. Unlike other contemporaneous unisex styles, Gernreich’s designs did not use menswear as a baseline for women’s garments. “Women will wear pants and men will wear skits interchangeably,” he predicted. “The aesthetics of fashion are going to involve the body itself. We will train the body to grown beautifully rather than cover it to produce beauty.”
Gernreich brought his concept to life for the U.S. Pavillion’s Art and Technology Program at Expo ’70, a memorable World’s Fair in Osaka, Japan. He eliminated stylistic markers of gender on his models. “Our notion of masculine and feminine are being challenged as never before.” he asserted. “The basic masculine – feminine appeal is in people, not in clothes.” These sentiments are echoed today, as fashion continues to shift its understanding of gender as fluid.
Photographed as Part of the Exhibit, Items: Is Fashion Modern, on View Through January 28th, 2018 at The Museum of Modern Art in NYC.