SUMO CHIC

Posted by Frank Virgintino on

Peggy Moffitt said, "To me the whole point of a caftan is freedom. Men have been striding across the desert for thousands of years in them looking marvelous and being comfortable. There is beauty and sensuality in comfort; that is the caftan's appeal. Here is one of Rudi's caftans. It was made of silk and lined in silk. That's all. It slipped and slid around the naked body and felt like a thousand baby's hands caressing me." Here she is posing barefoot like a wrestler for her husband photographer William Claxton in this silk printed “sumo”-caftan by Rudi Gernreich from his 1967 Resort Collection. As comfortable as this ultra-smooth throw-on is, a true vintage collectible almost fifty years later, it’s way too special to wear to just anywhere. Maybe for a holiday cruise somewhere warm and relaxing when you’ll want an airy garment, or to a spring/summer museum or gallery event where its novelty would be appreciated. In 2016 we might take it for granted how bold and provocative this piece was in its time, but true to the sixties Gernreich wanted to make innovative clothing and shake up standard understandings of good fashion. I see that rule-breaker touch in this colorful swirl-print that looks like a Japanese sand garden on LSD covering the entire garment. Pair this with sandals and chunky jewelry and you’ll feel regal in art from another era. - Frank