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The Total Look - MOCA, Los Angeles

The Creative Collaboration Between Rudi Gernreich, Peggy Moffitt and William Claxton

The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, is currently playing host to a selection of photographs and films that explore the role of 60s icon Peggy Moffitt as a muse for fashion designer Rudi Gernreich and her late husband, the photographer William Claxon. Whilst London and Italy are often credited as the birthplace of Mod, California born Moffitt established herself as 'the American Twiggy' with her Vidal Sassoon asymmetric haircut and kabuki-inspired heavy eye make-up and false lashes.

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Peggy Moffitt modelling a Rudi Gernreich design,1968, photo by William Claxton

The designer Rudi Gernreich became well known for his futuristic and boundary pushing modernist designs, and lived by the motto “fashion will go out of fashion”. Together with Moffitt and William Claxon, the trio became central figures on the Los Angeles art scene in the 1960s and ‘70s and were well known for their friendships and collaborations with other key influencers. For a short period of time Gernreich extended his talents to mainstream sportswear and swimwear manufacturers, and received recognition and awards for new innovations such as the knitted tube dress and the first unconstructed swimsuit. After a while the designer grew tired of the commercial compromises he was forced to make and, never one to shy away from controversy, Gernreich caused a media frenzy in 1964 when he presented Moffitt wearing the very first ‘topless swimsuit’.

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 Peggy Moffitt modelling a Rudi Gernreich design, 1971, photo by William Claxton

William Claxton started out as one of America’s most famous Jazz photographers, who also became known for his celebrity portraits and album cover designs. After shooting Gernreich's designs in 1957, Claxton went on to marry his muse and create what was is deemed as many as the first fashion film: Basic Black: William Claxton w/ Peggy Moffitt (1967). The exhibition explores how these three creatives independently and collectively made their mark on the world of fashion, film and photography. Christopher Claxton, the son of Moffitt and Claxton and Director of the Claxton Archive has helped coordinate the presentation of photographs and films alongside curator Cameron Silver, assisted by Ethel Seno and Jhordan Dahl.

The Total Look: The Collaboration Between Rudi Gernrich, Peggy Moffitt and William Claxton is open now until 27th May 2012, at the MOCA Pacific Design Centre. For more information, including ticket prices and directions, click HERE.

The Museum of Contemporary Art, 250 South Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90012

www.moca.org