The Museum of Contemporary Art presents The Total Look: The Creative Collaboration Between Rudi Gernreich, Peggy Moffitt, and William Claxton, is currently on view now through May 20, 2012, at MOCA Pacific Design Center. The exhibition celebrates the remarkable collaboration between the great fashion designer Rudi Gernreich, his model and muse Peggy Moffitt, and Moffitt’s late husband, photographer William Claxton, who created the distinctive images of Moffitt activating Gernreich’s designs. The exhibition features selected looks from Moffitt’s definitive collection, with films and photographs by Claxton of Moffitt modeling the clothes.
“Fashion will go out of fashion” is one of Gernreich’s many memorable declarations, but his designs continue to resonate, looking contemporary 50 years after they were made. Gernreich told Moffitt about a dream he had shortly before his death in 1985. “I had a dream last night that I was in a graveyard and I saw my own tombstone. I went up to it and it said, ‘He was always 10 years ahead of his time.’” “He was wrong of course,” Moffitt recalled. “He was always 30 years ahead of his time.”
Gernreich, Moffitt, and Claxton were central figures in the Los Angeles art community in the 1960s and ‘70s, and were known for their friendships and collaborations with other artists. Gernreich’s work incorporates and prefigures many of the innovations of pop, minimal, and performance art. The introduction of his famous topless swimsuit in 1964 became one of the first instances of art and design being transformed into a worldwide media event.
Moffitt has written that Gernreich “invented the modern way of dressing for the latter half of the twentieth century just as Chanel had done for the earlier part of the century,” and that “he was also the first designer since Dior to become a household name.” In December 1967, he became one of the first fashion designers to appear on the cover of TIME magazine, which described him as “the most way-out, far-ahead designer in the U.S.”
Curated by Cameron Silver, the fashion historian and founder of Decades, in collaboration with curatorial coordinators Ethel Seno and Jhordan Dahl. Christopher Claxton, the son of Moffitt and Claxton and the Director of the Claxton Archive has helped to coordinate the presentation of the photographs and films. The exhibition design is by Marmol Radziner.
The Total Look: The Creative Collaboration Between Rudi Gernreich, Peggy Moffitt, and William Claxton is presented by M·∙A·∙C Cosmetics.
MOCA Pacific Design Center is located at 8687 Melrose Avenue West Hollywood, CA 90069. Hours of operation are: 11am to 5pm, Tuesday through Friday; 11am to 6pm on Saturday and Sunday; and closed on Monday.
Admission to MOCA Pacific Design Center is always free. For 24-hour information on current exhibitions, education programs, and special events, call 213/626-6222 or access MOCA online at moca.org.
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