Bathing suit

Designer: Rudi Gernreich (American (born Austria), Vienna 1922–1985 Los Angeles, California)

Date: 1964

Culture: American

Medium: wool, elastic

Credit Line: Gift of Betty Furness, 1986

Accession Number: 1986.517.13


Though swimwear always extends the possibility of a view to the body, the monokini caused quite a stir when it debuted in 1964. Gernreich's paradox is that the bottom of the topless suit is very conservative, with ample coverage and made in the same wool material that had been used for Victorian bathing apparel. As a gesture akin to Conceptual Art, this suit merges an avant-garde sensibility with a nod to tradition.