THE RUDI GERNREICH BOOK
1970, unisex. (photograph © Patricia Faure)
When the article appeared with sketches, Eugenia Butler, an art dealer acquainted with Gernreich, arranged a meeting with Maurice Tuchman, senior curator of modern art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and head of the American art and technology section scheduled for Expo 70, a world's fair thAt tnnk nlace in Osaka, Japan, in 1970. Tuchman asked Gernreich to create a special event for Expo -- an art-in-fashion statement for artists and art press who would be attending the Japan exhibition. In explaining his decision to bring the drawings in Life to life, Gernreich recounted, "I was terribly upset with what was going on. Iwanted people to be disturbed. I felt a strong anti-statement was in order and that a drawing was vague and unreal. I believed that if I translated that drawing into clothes it would be real. It would have an impact. Most people saw the Ufe article as a violent antisex statement. A few thought it was IyricaI, that the unisex statement represented a peaceful getting together. Iwas curious to see how they would react to the real thing. "
He first asked Moffitt to be his model. She refused. "To me, it was perfectly legitimate to project a future thirty to fifty years hence, but then to actually present the nudes seemed questionable. If you're predicting the future and next week show it, it's no longer futuristic. I tried to tell him he would be attacked personally for showing people without hair while he was covering his baldness with a toupee, but I couldn't say it. He justified going ahead with the idea of bringing his sketches to life, but Icould not be a part of it."
After Leon Bing also begged off, Gernreich started his search for a young man and woman who would agree to shave their bodies and heads and accompany him to Expo 70. The woman was Renee Holt a twenty-two-yea....old model, and the man was thirty-year-old Tom Broome, manager of a Los Angeles boutique called Chequer West.
Time magazine chronicled the shaving event in its January 26, 1970 issue: "The first order of business was to shave the heads and bodies of his two models. 'Hair hides a lot: explained Gernreich, 'and body hair is too sexual. I don't want to confuse the idea of freedom with sexual nakedness. Openness and honesty call for no covering of any kind.'
For Thomas Broome, Rudi's male model, the prospect of allover alopecia held no horror: 'I've wanted to shed my hair for a long time. I have this theory that when I do, I will shed other things, too-maybe my inhibitions.' But Holt approached her barber's appointment with anxiety. Fondly caressing her long golden tresses, she said bravely, 'In a way, long hair is a crutch for a woman. Once the hair is short, one may develop other things like the intellect. But I have been thinking what my father will say.'