“Prior to the sixties, clothes were clothes. Then when they started coming from the streets, I realized you could say things with clothes. Design was not enough.”
Some of us continue to imagine that clothing isn’t art and that those who design clothes aren’t artists. Yet decades ago, monokini creator, fashion-industry critic and Mattachine Society co-founder Rudi Gernreich proved all such blinkered thinkers utterly wrong. His art also showed without a doubt that creativity could thrive by taking on “politics” and social change.
— Jeff Weinstein, arts editor and cultural commentator
In 2009 the Museum honored Rudi Gernreich (1922-1985) for his revolutionary contributions to American fashion and life-style, from the topless bathing suit to plastic clothing, from women’s casual wear to unisex clothing.
The museum’s director, Bill Stern, presented the Henry Award for Outstanding Contributions to American Design to Peggy Moffitt, Gernreich's principal model, one of the first supermodels and author of “The Rudi Gernreich Book,” who accepted it on behalf of the late designer.
The Benefit, which was held at the spacious Hollywood Hills view-home of Alan Harris and Marcella Ruble, included Gernreich collaborator Renee Firestone speaking about working with the designer at the beginning of his career, and the cultural commentator Jeff Weinstein (read Weinstein’s remarks) assessing Gernreich’s contributions to American design and social mores.
In addition to Peggy Moffitt, Gernreich’s design community was also represented at the event by his first model, Jimmy Mitchell, Gary Youngman producer of “Basic Black”, the Gernreich fashion film directed by William Claxton, and the legendary hairstylist and businessman Vidal Sassoon.
The live and silent auctions featured outstanding vintage items and contemporary works of art and design. Auction lots included Rudi Gernreich dresses, autographed books by Julius Shulman, photos and books autographed by Peggy Moffitt, a Lucite chair by Charles Hollis Jones and other desirable new and vintage objects.
We thank Susanna and Evans Lam and David Bohnett and Tom Gregory whose sponsorships made this event possible.
We also thank Joel Chen , and our media partner Magazine.
We are especially grateful to our gracious hosts ALAN HARRIS and MARCELLA RUBLE.
The Museum of California Design is the only organization exclusively dedicated to exhibiting and documenting the full range of California’s rich commercial design history, which we accomplish through traveling exhibitions and public programs.