MOCA Total Look of Gernreich Moffitt Claxton

MOCA Celebrates the Total Look: The Creative Collaboration Between Rudi Gernreich, Peggy Moffitt and William Claxton


Peggy Moffitt called the 1964 photograph of herself in the Rudi Gernreich topless swimsuit, “the shot seen around the world.”  As the favorite model of the legendary fashion designer, known for his 1960s “mod” styles, Moffitt said, “Think of something that takes you a tenth of a second to do and then imagine having to talk about it for the next 30 or 40 years.” (Click here to see 50 photos from the opening night.)

And that’s exactly what Moffitt continued to do throughout the evening, as a steady stream of party-goers greeted Moffitt at the Feb. 25 celebration of “The Total Look: The Creative Collaboration Between Rudi Gernreich, Peggy Moffitt, and William Claxton.” The exhibition at the Pacific Design Center, presented by the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles and MAC Cosmetics, will be on display until May 20.

Moffitt loaned 55 of Gernreich’s distinctive fashions from her private collection, along with Claxton’s famous photographs, to MOCA for the exhibition. They can be seen both on mannequins and on Moffitt in Claxton’s fashion photographs. A noted jazz, celebrity and fashion photographer, Claxton was also Moffit’s husband.   

Exhibition curator Cameron Silver, said he had long wanted to work with Moffitt. “This is a dream for me,” he said, (although granted the timing could have been better, as Silver – owner of the Decades vintage boutique – was also helping to dress clients for Academy Awards festivities that same week.)

According to the invitations, “Rudi Gernreich-inspired attire” was encouraged and so, plenty of tights, miniskirts and ’60s hairdos and makeup were evident in the crowd, which included Mila Kunis of “Friends with Benefits” and “The Black Swan;” fashion designers Trina Turk, Jeremy Scott and Monique Lhuillier; Moffitt’s son Christopher Claxton, director of the Claxton Archive; and Vidal Sassoon, founder of a worldwide hairstyling empire and a Gernreich collaborator.

Sassoon called Gernreich one of the great fashion designers of the U.S., adding, “If Rudi Gernreich had been in Paris, he would have been top, top, top, right up there with (Yves) St. Laurent. I know it because I worked with all the designers, and you could tell who were the innovators, and who were just copiers. Rudi was an innovator.”

After perusing the exhibition of body-conscious “mod” fashions, including the famous topless swimsuit, also called the “monokini,” guests adjourned to an elegant four-course dinner, served at a winding serpentine layout of tables. Museum director Jeffrey Deitch welcomed guests, thanked sponsors and said a few words about Gernreich, a designer, he said, who “helped define the vision of the 1960s.”

“This was a remarkable group of people in the art world at a special moment in time,” said John Demsey, president of MAC Cosmetics, between courses of salads, Shanghai lobster, chicken potpie and warm sticky toffee pudding. “Rudi and Peggy were icons of the ‘60s. They were taking design to a level of painting and sculpture.”

Demsey said the exhibition tells the story to a new generation and helps them understand the aesthetic of the times. As for the makeup, Demsey said, “Now people say they want ‘Kim Kardashian eyes.’ Then they asked for ‘Peggy Moffitt’ eyes.”

And to help create a Kardashian, Moffitt or any other look, guests got to take home gift boxes of MAC cosmetics. (Guests at the Feb. 24 Women In Film Oscar party got MAC gift boxes, curated by Academy Award makeup nominee Amanda Knight with a “Harry Potter” vibe; Feb. 25 MOCA guests got a ’60s-inspired array.)

Co-hosts were Demsey, Maria Arena Bell, NancyJane Goldston, Hollye Harrington Jacobs, Carolyn and Bill Powers, Gelila and Wolfgang Puck, Eugene Sadovoy, Amber Sakaj and Angelique Soave.

Additional support came from Dr. Gabriel Chiu of Beverly Hills Plastic Surgery, Inc., The MOCA Contemporaries, Matthias Kind, Sally and Michel Perrin of Perrin-Paris 1893, Lisa Perry, Eugene Sadovoy and Trina Turk. Others were Charles S. Cohen, CNL Mannequins and Margaret’s Cleaners.  Yifat Oren designed the event with décor provided by Jonathan Adler and Simon Doonan.

Click here to see a photo album of 50 pictures from the opening night party and MOCA Total Look of Gernreich Moffitt Claxton exhibition. 

For more information about location and hours, click here. The exhibition is free.


Top photo: Iconic fashion model and muse Peggy Moffitt poses beside a Rudi Gernreich design at the new exhibition at the new MOCA Total Look of Gernreich Moffitt Claxton exhibition at the Pacific Design Center

Photo, second from top: Museum director Jeffrey Deitch and Mila Kunis of “Friends With Benefits” (photo: David X Prutting/

Photo, third from top: Exhibit curator Cameron Silver in a vintage Chanel jacket at the MOCA Total Look of Gerneich Moffit Claxton exhibition which runs until May 20

Bottom Photo: The famous topless swimsuit, or monokini, by Rudi Gernreich, modeled by Peggy Moffitt in a 1964 photograph by her husband William Claxton




50 Photos from Opening Night at MOCA’s “The Total Look: The Creative Collaboration Between Rudi Gernreich, Peggy Moffitt and William Claxton”

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MOCA Total Look of Gernreich Moffitt Claxton

Published Feb. 28, 2012 – Ellen Olivier, Society News LA