L-R: Peggy Moffitt in Rudi Gernreich's monokini, photo by William Claxton; Saint Laurent Resort 2014
Fashion designer Rudi Gernreich is often remembered for his 1964 topless monokini, but perhaps his most lasting contribution to modern women's wardrobes is sheer clothing. In the 1960s, Gernreich was the first to introduce sheer fashions for women, in particular see-through blouses that exposed women's upper halves. For Gernreich, the liberation of women's breasts was inextricably linked to women's emancipation. By freeing women of their physical constraints, they could released from the restrictions imposed on them by male-dominated society, too. Perhaps Gernreich's outlook explains the “overwhelming abundance of mammaries” on last month's runways. From Saint Laurent to Michael Kors, Louis Vuitton to Alexander Wang, tiny chests in sheer blouses were very much chic. But are these designs social statements or just ploys to sell clothes? And can real women get away with virtual toplessness? I’ll let you be the judge.
S.S.W. Asks: The sort-of topless trend – hot or not?