This weekend, The Total Look opened at LA MOCA’s satellite space in West Hollywoood. The show is a celebration of the collaboration between designer Rudi Gernreich, model Peggy Moffitt and photographer William Claxton. The late designer, an LA-based Austrian transplant, was well known for inventing the topless monokini (popular in Europe in the 1960′s) and helping to launch the sixties mod aesthetic with his daring and colorful body conscious designs. Moffitt was Gernreich’s model and muse (as well as the late Claxton’s wife), a darker Twiggy, with similarly huge eyes, short hair and diminutive frame. While both men are no longer around, the exhibits showcases Moffitt’s collection of Gernreich’s highly sought after and extremely rare designs alongside Claxton’s photographs as a tribute to them both, focusing on the trifecta of designer, model and photographer. (Hairdresser Vidal Sassoon, who I imagine was also an integral part for creating that somehow very sexy bowl haircut, showed up to the preview.) The exhibition also features the 1967 short film, Basic Black: William Claxton w/ Peggy Moffitt, which many call the first fashion video ever. What strikes me about this exhibit is how well truly good design can stand the test of time, as (most) of these outfits translate flawlessly to today’s fashion. The bathing suits, in particular, are still absolute works of art with no real competitive answer in today’s market. The other thing that strikes me, of course, is that Peggy Moffitt is stunning at age 73, and although the exhibit focuses on the collaboration, I am glad she is still around to get credit for being a part of such a pivotal moment in fashion history. Looking at this exhibit makes me think we can all use a bit of the swinging sixties in our life.
The Total Look is on view through May 20th at The MOCA Pacific Design Center, located at 8687 Melrose in Los Angeles, California.