Retrofuturist Flashback: Future Nude Fashions

Rudi Gernreich's 70's future vision. © Bettmann/CORBIS

I really should cover fashion more on Retrofuturist Flashback, because cutting-edge fashion is always about the future -- and the designs typically skew towards the extreme.

Here we see some of the work from Austrian-born fashion designer Rudi Gernreich (1922-1985). He's probably best known for his topless unisex bathing suits of the 1960s, but his futurist ethos takes full form in his 1970 designs pictured here.

Gernreich considered this the future of fashion for the 1970s: unisex clothing, baldness and nudity. Gernreich believed that, "with age, the body will be covered completely (see below). If the body can no longer be accentuated it should be abstracted. For youth, a time for physical display. Nudity and baldness."

He believed nudity would be equated with freedom, rather than sexuality -- a beautiful post-humanism ideal. Of course, you'll note that I had to cut the top image so as to avoid showing the female model's nipples. We have no such problem with the male nipples, which is an issue we discussed in our episode "Mother's Milk."

Rudi Gernreich's 70's future vision.
© Bettmann/CORBIS

About the Author: Robert Lamb spent his childhood reading books and staring into the woods — first in Newfoundland, Canada and then in rural Tennessee. There was also a long stretch in which he was terrified of alien abduction. He earned a degree in creative writing. He taught high school and then attended journalism school. He wrote for the smallest of small-town newspapers before finally becoming a full-time science writer and podcaster. He’s currently a senior writer at HowStuffWorks and has co-hosted the science podcast Stuff to Blow Your Mind since its inception in 2010. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling with his wife Bonnie, discussing dinosaurs with his son Bastian and crafting the occasional work of fiction.