At the moment, this topless business has done nothing but take away from my work, but in the end, I'm sure having my name known internationally will be a help. There was a strong public reaction to the original swimsuit design.
It wasn't meant to be worn in public. Life writer Shana Alexander noted, "One funny thing about toplessness is that it really doesn't have much to do with breasts.
Breasts of course are not absurd; topless swimsuits are. Lately people keep getting the two things mixed up. In New York City, leading stores like B. Gernreich purposefully used his designs to advance his socio-political views.
Gernreich stated, "To me, the only respect you can give to a woman is to make her a human being. A totally emancipated woman who is totally free. Gernreich said, "Baring the breasts seemed logical in a period of freer attitudes, freer minds, the emancipation of women. There is now an honesty hangup, and part of this is not hiding the body—it stands for freedom. Every girl I knew was offended by the dirty-little-boy attitude of the American male toward the American bosom.
I was aware that the great masses of the world would find the topless shocking and immoral. I couldn't help feel the implicit hypocrisy that made something in one culture immoral and in another perfectly acceptable. In January, , he told Gloria Steinem in an interview that despite the criticism he'd do it again.
A designer stands or falls on the totality of each year's collection, not just one item. At the moment, this topless business has done nothing but take away from my work, but in the end, I'm sure having my name known internationally will be a help. But that isn't why I'd do it again.
I'd do it again because I think the topless, by overstating and exaggerating a new freedom of the body, will make the moderate, right degree of freedom more acceptable. Moffitt said the design was a logical evolution of Gernreich's avant-garde ideas in swimwear design as much as a scandalous symbol of the permissive society.
It was about a changing culture throughout all society, about freedom and emancipation. It was also a reaction against something particularly American: Los Angeles Times staff writer Bettijane Levine wrote, "His topless was an artistic statement against women as sex objects, much as Pablo Picasso painted Guernica as a statement against war.
Moffit was a member of the committee. When the group considered showing the Monokini suit during the benefit, Moffitt strongly objected. She told the Los Angeles Times, . Rudi did the suit as a social statement. It was an exaggeration that had to do with setting women free. It had nothing to do with display, and the minute someone wears it to show off her body, you've negated the entire principle of the thing. I modeled it for a photograph, which was eventually published around the world, because I believed in the social statement.
Also, because the three of us—Rudi, Bill, and I—felt that the photograph presented the statement accurately. The regional director of the Fashion Group, Sarah Worman, believed that the swimsuit was "the single most important idea he ever had—the one that changed the way women dressed all over the Western world. And I don't want to exploit women any more now than I did in The statement hasn't changed.
The suit still is about freedom and not display. There was a strong public reaction to the original swimsuit design. The Soviet Union denounced the suit, saying it was "barbarism" and indicated "capitalistic decay". In the US, some Republicans tried to blame the suit on the Democrats' stance on moral issues. The United States Postmaster General had banned nudist publications from the mail until , when the Supreme Court of the United States declared that the naked body in and of itself could not be deemed obscene.
As the suit gained notoriety, the New York City Police Department was strictly instructed by the commissioner of parks to arrest any woman wearing a monokini. Women's clubs and the Catholic church actively condemned the design. In Italy and Spain, the Catholic church warned against the topless fashion. In France in , Roger Frey led the prosecution of the use of the monokini, describing it as: Consequently, the police chiefs must employ the services of the police so that the women who wear this bathing suit in public places are prosecuted.
Tropez on the French Riviera , where toplessness later became the norm, the mayor ordered police to ban toplessness and to watch over the beach via helicopter.
Fashion designers Geraldine Stutz , president of Henri Bendel , said, "I only wish I were young enough to be one of the pioneers myself. After all, it is here to stay, and it is awfully nice being a girl. When Toni Lee Shelley, a 19 year old artists model, wore the topless bathing suit to the North Avenue beach in Chicago, 12 police officers responded, 11 to control and disperse the public and photographers, and one to arrest her.
At her arraignment she asked for an all-male jury. In the s , the monokini influenced the sexual revolution by emphasizing a woman's personal freedom of dress, even when her attire was provocative and exposed more skin than had been the norm during the more conservative s. On June 22, , the public relations manager of the Condor Nightclub in San Francisco 's North Beach district bought Gernreich's monokini from Joseph Magnin and gave it to former prune picker, file clerk, and waitress Carol Doda to wear for her act.
Doda was the first modern topless dancer in the United States, : San Francisco Mayor John Shelley said, "topless is at the bottom of porn. San Francisco public officials tolerated the topless bars until April 22, , when the San Francisco Police Department arrested Doda on indecency charges.
Hundreds of protesters gathered outside the police department, calling for release of both Doda and free speech activist Mario Savio , held in the same station. Journalist Earl Wilson wrote in his syndicated column, "Are we ready for girls in topless gowns? Heck, we may not even notice them. Going topless reached its highest popularity during the s.
In the early s monokini designs that were simply a bikini-bottom also known as the unikini became popular. Unlike Gernreich's original design exposing the women's breasts, current designs are one-piece swimsuits that cover the women's breasts but typically include large cut-outs  on the sides, back, or front.
The cutouts are connected with varying fabrics, including mesh, chain, and other materials to link the top and bottom sections together. From the back the monokini looks like a two-piece swimsuit. The design may not be functional but aesthetic. In , four weeks before his death, Gernreich unveiled the lesser-known pubikini , a topless bathing suit that exposed the wearer's mons pubis.
Media related to Monokinis at Wikimedia Commons. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For the Stereo Total album, see Monokini album. Modern versions of a monokini swimsuit. Modern Monokini designs range from bikini bottoms only left to single-piece swimwear with cutouts right.
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