Ralph Lauren it ain't


Back to the future? Models show off Gernreich’s late-1950s “cut-out” bathing suit and beach dress.

Photo © Christa Zinner

Back in the ’60s, the future was something to behold. We would all commute by jet-pack, eat freeze-dried food pellets and wear unisex clothing.

Well, the future is here, and it doesn’t look like that at all. Except for the unisex clothing part, where some variation on men’s casual wear has spread throughout society. But even that is not what the inventors of the future envisioned four decades ago.

What the future was supposed to look like goes on display at the Institute of Contemporary Art Sept. 15. “Fashion Will Go Out of Fashion” is a look back at the career of Rudi Gernreich (1922-1985), the fashion designer known as much for his provocative creations — like the topless swimsuit — as for his vision of a casual, unisex, fashionless future.

In addition to displays of Gernreich’s fashions, the show — which traveled from Graz, Austria, to its only U.S. stop — includes footage from films and TV shows for which Gernreich designed costumes, photographs, slide projections and custom-designed wallpaper based on Gernreich’s press clippings and display advertisements.


RUDI GERNREICH: FASHION WILL GO OUT OF FASHION”: Sept. 15 to Nov. 11 at the Institute of Contemporary Art, 118 S. 36th St. Hours: Noon to 8 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Admission $3, students over 12/artists/seniors $2, ICA members/children 12 and under/PennCard holders/all visitors before 1 p.m. Sundays free. Info: www.icaphila.org or 215-898-5911/7108.

Last story in sequence
Front page for this issue
Next story in sequence

Originally published on September 13, 2001