The Emancipated Human • The Story of Rudi Gernreich

When we think of fashion we think simply of clothing. Austrian born American designer Rudolph “Rudi” Gernreich’s designs pushed the world of fashion to think of a much bigger picture. Household names of every generation continue to embrace and explore fashion that goes beyond the traditional gender binary; the 2020s are on course to being remembered as the decade that unisex fashion officially peaked. But the history of unisex clothing design dates back quite a few decades, spearheaded particularly by designer Rudi Gernreich.

Gernreich purposefully used fashion design as a social statement to advance sexual freedom, producing clothes that flowed with the natural form of, most specifically, the female body, freeing them from the constraints of high fashion. He wanted to reduce the stigma of a naked body to “cure our society of its sex hang up.”

“People will try to say that I want to make women look masculine. 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 .”

Rather than perpetuating the toxic ideology that high fashion continuously normalizes, which, as Gernreich saw it, “is simply a shameful sexualization of the human body,” Gernreich realized ‘you can say things with clothes.’ He presented himself fully encapsulated in the environment of the future: one in which people will accept their bodies. He said, “clothes will be utilitarian, organic, and minimal. It will free us to think of more important things.”

 Born in Vienna in 1922, Rudi learned about high fashion and fabrics from his aunt, Hedwig Müller, who owned a dress shop. His deep understanding of the human form came from an unexpected source: preparing bodies for autopsy (his first job!!) His many hours sketching and creating early impressions of sexuality and self were cut short, fleeing persecution as a Jewish teenager from Hitler’s Austria in 1938. He arrived in Los Angeles at 16, where he would later be arrested and convicted in a police homosexual entrapment case, which was unfortunately common in Southern California at that time. This led to Gernreich becoming one of the founders and early supporters of one of the first gay rights organizations in the United States, the Mattachine Society. As a Jew, a homosexual, a foreigner, an artist, a fashion designer and even in his business approach, Gernreich was always the outsider.

Gernreich’s first foray into fashion design can be attributed to his time in the Lester Horton Modern Dance Company, where he was briefly a dancer and designer. Innovative and perhaps unconventional in the eyes of Hollywood, he took note of what clothes did to the body, a theme that would stay present in his later designs. The costumes he designed accented the body, while allowing freedom of movement in ways that gave the dancers costumes and silhouettes sculptural elements, liberating the body from the limitations of clothing.

 In 1952, Gernreich introduced the first swimsuit without a built-in bra. Swimsuits during this time had stiff inner construction with boned linings, ultimately a seagoing corset. He eliminated the rigid silhouettes and wire constructions that shaped women’s clothes and undergarments. Gernreich’s mini dresses raised hemlines and his swimsuits allowed for a more natural and unisex look. Gernreich also introduced pantsuits, expanding the options for womenswear. These designs are common nowadays, but at the time were cause for massive backlash. Nevertheless, Gernreich yearned to create a unique style that would break the mold of the Paris fashion houses that dictated the latest style trends.

Gernreich also wanted to push back on high fashion that was unaffordable and used his designs as an opportunity to be heard in social issues, expanding society’s perception of what was acceptable. In 1966, he did just that and broke the unwritten rule that Big Name designers don’t sell in chain stores. On a roll with shocking the fashion community, he introduced the first topless bathing suit for women: The Monokini. The Monokini bottom was similar to a maillot swimsuit style but ended at mid-torso and was supported by two straps between the breasts and around the neck.

“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”

Taking home countless awards along with being showcased in multiple museums, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gernreich’s name and mindset will live on in perpetuity. In fact, in 1985, Tom Bradley, the Mayor of Los Angeles, proclaimed August 13 as ‘Rudi Gernreich Day’ in recognition of Gernreich’s contributions to fashion and to Los Angeles. He declared, “his designs were social commentary and forecast on our times and the future lifestyles of our nation.” Before Gernreich’s passing in 1985, he lived out the last of his time focusing on creating (nothing can prepare you for this one): gourmet soups! Much deserved after thirty years dedicated to reshaping and redefining the fashion community. (Find the link to his Cold Red Pepper Soup below!)

Rudi Gernreich writ himself into infamy by busting open some of the heaviest doors within the fashion industry, championing for women and queers specifically. And for that, we thank him.

We hope you’ve enjoyed learning about Rudi as much as we have!

Rudi Gernreich’s Cold Red Pepper Soup

Here’s the dress that sparked this journey of learning,
available for purchase at our Cambridge shop

Spring-Summer Consignment

Appointments are booked 11:30am-6pm Tuesday-Sunday in Cambridge, 12:30pm-5pm Tuesday-Saturday in Maynard.

Read below to get an idea of what we’ll be looking for (and what we wont) for April and May.

YES!

  • Casual dresses
  • Open toed shoes
  • Rain coats, hats, boots, umbrellas
  • Sneakers
  • Vintage sunglasses
  • Sterling silver jewelry (RINGS!)
  • Wedding guest attire
  • Anything in size 0-2, 12-18
  • Shoes size 5-6, 9+
  • Shorts, skorts
  • Linen, cotton, silk
  • Statement accessories
  • Menswear*
  • Vintage t-shirts
  • Halter tops, tank tops
  • Florals and funky patterns
  • Vintage denim
  • Prom dresses*
  • Vintage or NWT swimwear (May)
  • Like-new/NWT athletic apparel
  • Boho/prairie/cottagecore

LL Bean
Coach
Madewell
Doc Martens
Converse
Liz Claiborne

Dooney & Bourke
Marimekko
Free People
Anthropologie

Guess
John Fluevog
Frye
Carhartt
Dickies
J Crew (funky stuff only)
Reformation
Zara
Lucky Brand
Levi’s
Wrangler

  • Textures
  • Patterns
  • Embellishments
  • Quality brands
  • Unique cuts/styles
  • Like-new condition

*PROM dresses are accepted March-April only. We look specifically for non-traditional prom dresses, primarily vintage, 1960s-2000s.

*Our menswear section mainly consists of casual items, but we will accept funky vintage formalwear for prom and wedding season! You can leave dad’s old accountant suits at home, though.

NO 😦

  • Coats
  • Jackets past May 31
  • Used swimwear (unless it is vintage)
  • Boots
  • Large shoulder bags
  • Heavy leather
  • Visibly worn shoes
  • Basics*
  • Traditional formalwear (think David’s Bridal)
  • Undergarments, unless they are excellent condition vintage
  • Traditional office attire
  • Children’s clothing
  • Housewares, furniture
  • 80s-90s skirt suits


Forever 21
Charlotte Russe
SHEIN
Lularoe
Old Navy
Dress Barn
White House/Black Market
Hollister
Jessica Simpson
Jennifer Lopez
Kristen Cavallari
Wild Fang
Who What Wear
a new day
Universal Thread
Time and Tru
Willi Smith
Mossimo
Xhiliration
Merona
Divided
LOGG

  • Cheap polyester/textiles
  • Pilling
  • Rips, holes
  • Stains, discoloration
  • Out-of-date styles
  • Peeling leather
  • Body or musty odors
  • Worn out shoes, vintage shoes*

*Vintage shoes often degrade over time, even (especially) if they are kept in boxes in closets or attics or basements. If the insoles are peeling, if leather is too stiff or cracked or the soles are deteriorating, we will not take the shoes.

*We accept good quality basics from contemporary brands like Madewell, Everlane, and Eileen Fisher.

As always, all items that come into the shop need to fit our quality and style standards. We specialize in vintage and vintage-inspired, on trend, contemporary items. Please be sure to give us some info on the items you are looking to consign when submitting your appointment request.

There has already been a significant increase in gasps of amazement with our 2022 consignment so far, we cant wait to see what else you have for us!

XOXO
Gossip Girl

Submit an Appointment Request

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Familiarize yourself with our policies (you won’t regret it)

Cambridge Consignment Update

We are fully booked for consignment through 12/31! Winter appointments are still available throughout January, but please note we will not be taking any winter coats past mid-December.

For those of you already on the calendar in December, here’s a handy guide as to what we are and are not looking for:

YES

Shearling coats (thru 12/15)
Faux fur statement coats (thru 12/15)
Down puffer coats (thru 12/15)
Wool dress coats (thru 12/15)
Cashmere
Wool, wool blends
Vintage statement sweaters
Shawls and ponchos
Turtlenecks
Statement blazers
Oversized scarves
Berets
Snow boots
Combat boots
Hi-rise, boot cut, straight leg denim
Statement pants
Sweater dresses
Maxi skirts
Menswear*
Stylish loungewear
Statement jewelry

LL Bean
Coach
Madewell
Doc Martens
Converse
Liz Claiborne

Dooney & Bourke
Marimekko
Free People
Anthropologie
Dansko
John Fluevog
Frye
Carhartt
Dickies
J Crew (funky stuff only)
Reformation
Zara
Lucky Brand
Levi’s
Wrangler
Pendleton

Textures
Patterns
Embellishments
Quality brands
Unique cuts/styles
Like-new condition

NO

Lightweight jackets
Holiday apparel
Coats past 12/15
Furs (mink, beaver, etc. They’re not selling!)

Traditional office attire
Non-winter items
Childrens’ clothing
Housewares, furniture
Mens’ formalwear
80s-90s skirt suits


Forever 21
Charlotte Russe
SHEIN
Lularoe
Old Navy
Dress Barn
White House/Black Market
Hollister
Jessica Simpson
Jennifer Lopez
Kristen Cavallari
Wild Fang
Who What Wear
a new day
Universal Thread
Time and Tru
Willi Smith
Mossimo
Xhiliration
Merona
Divided
LOGG

Cheap polyester/textiles
Pilling
Rips, holes
Stains, discoloration
Out-of-date styles
Peeling leather
Body or musty odors
Worn out shoes, vintage shoes*

*Vintage shoes often degrade over time, even (especially) if they are kept in boxes in closets or attics or basements. If the insoles are peeling, if leather is too stiff or cracked, or the soles are deteriorating, we will not take the shoes.

As always, all items that come into the shop need to fit our quality and style standards. We specialize in vintage and vintage-inspired, on trend, contemporary items. We tend to stay away from common basics, but apparel from stylized basics labels like Madewell, Everlane, and Eileen Fisher are accepted.

*Menswear is back at Raspberry Beret! Our men’s section is still a modest work in progress but we encourage you and your masculine-leaning cohorts to shop and consign and help us grow! We’ll be looking for more menswear in 2022, so fill out an appointment request form today to get on the calendar 🙂

Speaking of 2022… if you still have winter items you’d like to bring by, January is your last chance to do so. We will not be taking winter coats in January. Jackets will be considered if they can be worn indoors or are exceptional statement pieces. We are trying to put more emphasis on vintage in 2022, so if you’ve got any to spare, give us a shout!

XOXO
Gossip Girl

Stay inspired by following us on Pinterest

Familiarize yourself with our policies. You won’t regret it!

Request your consignment appointment

Cambridge Cash Buyout!

Our Cambridge location will be hosting its first Cash Buyout of 2020 on Sunday, March 1 from 12-4PM.

Here’s what you can expect:

  • Wait times may vary and could exceed 30 minutes. We expect this event to be busy and we appreciate your patience.
  • We are buying spring items only! NO coats, heavy sweaters, or winter accessories. See a list of spring styles we are looking for here.
  • Buyout prices are typically lower than consignment earnings. We may recommend consignment for certain items of higher value. 
  • You may opt for cash or store credit. Store credit is valid for 18 months and earns you a 15% discount when used. 
  • We may refuse to purchase any item regardless of brand, style, or condition. All items brought in for consideration to our Cash Buyouts must meet the same quality and presentation requirements as items brought in for consignment. Brush up on our quality standards here.

Hope to see you there!

Join Our Maynard Team!

We are looking for a new dedicated team member for our Maynard location! This is a part time position, ~20 hours per week, starting in early March. Read more below:

Raspberry Beret is a local boutique that specializes in new and consigned women’s fashion—a go-to for modern style, classic vintage, and luxury clothing and accessories. From Gucci and Hermes to Bonwit Teller and Alfred Shaheen and so much in between, Raspberry Beret aims to provide high quality, unique pieces at a reasonable price.

CANDIDATE REQUIREMENTS

  • Previous retail/sales experience (consignment/secondhand a plus!)
  • Availability Monday, Thursday, Friday, and Sunday.
  • Working knowledge of and interest in learning about modern and vintage brands, styles, and values.
  • Attention to detail/eye for style — ability to accurately identify and describe inventory in our database (fabrics, colors, garment styles, patterns, etc.), maintaining displays and store appearance/cleanliness, providing customers and consignors with a personalized, thorough experience.
  • Social Media literacy (Instagram, Facebook, Poshmark) and the ability to compose on-brand photos and captions for all social media outlets, willingness to appear in photos, baseline knowledge of product photography, sharing content across multiple platforms.
  • Computer literacy — Google suite (Calendar, Docs, Sheets, Gmail), Windows 10, data entry/POS software, ability to accurately research items to find their value.
  • Ability to be on your feet for long periods of time and ability to carry up to 40lbs of inventory throughout the store
  • Friendly, approachable, professional demeanor — You will be dealing with lots of people with lots of different attitudes. We need to meet them all with the same level of professionalism.
  • Sense of humor, wit, confident attitude — We have a lot of fun here, and we want our customers to share in and feed off of that experience.
  • Eagerness to learn and be an integral part of our team!

JOB RESPONSIBILITIES

  • Open, close the store on your own. Shifts start/end 30 minutes before/after open/close.
  • Provide customers with an attentive, fun, successful shopping experience — answering their questions, starting fitting rooms for them, listening to them talk about their lives even though you didn’t ask, helping them find the right pieces to complete their vision.
  • Answering/screening calls and emails with signature Raspberry Beret professionalism.
  • General store maintenance — vacuuming, dusting, emptying fitting rooms and returning items to their correct location in the store, merchandising/displays, sizing/colorizing racks…
  • Tagging (data entry: describing items, researching and identifying the right prices) new inventory in a timely manner.
  • Posting regularly to social media (Instagram, facebook, Poshmark). This is where knowledge of product photography is crucial.
  • Ring up sales, taking cash, debit/credit, and gift certificate payments
  • Marking down inventory as needed.
  • Familiarize yourself with our inventory, as it is constantly changing, to best serve our customers.
  • Book consignment appointments.
  • Ensure consignors are aware of our policies and procedures.
  • Select items for consignment. We’ll teach you what to look for!
  • Communicate efficiently with co-workers and management about store happenings and any conflicts, scheduling issues, etc.
  • Complete any general tasks as needed.

This position is a great opportunity for anyone looking to advance themselves in the world of sustainable fashion. While our store is female-focused, we encourage any and all interested parties to apply. Raspberry Beret is an inclusive and supportive business that does not discriminate against individuals based on their age, race, religion, size, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

TO APPLY

Email your resume and a blurb about yourself to shopraspberryberet@gmail.com.