Peggy Moffitt

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Peggy Moffitt
Peggy Moffitt in Rudi Gernreich monokini swimsuit 1964.jpg
Peggy Moffitt modeling Gernreich's monokini.
Born Margaret Anne Moffitt
(1940-05-14) May 14, 1940 (age 75)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Occupation Model, actress
Spouse(s) William Claxton (m. 1960–2008)
Children 1

Margaret Anne "Peggy" Moffitt (born May 14, 1940) is a former American model and actress. During the 1960s, she was muse for fashion designer Rudi Gernreich, and developed a signature style that featured heavy, Kabuki-like makeup and an asymmetrical hair cut.



Though her unique look has now become iconic of the 60s fashion scene, Moffitt started out pursuing a career in film, beginning with an uncredited role in the 1955 film You're Never Too Young.[1][2] She first began modeling in Paris in the 1950s.[3] During the 1960s, she developed a signature style, including false eyelashes and heavy eye makeup, drawing on Japanese Kabuki theater. Her hairstyle, an asymmetrical bowl cut, created by Vidal Sassoon, became known as the "five point".[4] Her unique look became an icon of the 1960s fashion scene.[2]

On June 4, 1964, she made international headlines when a photograph of her wearing a topless monokini bathing suit designed by Rudi Gernreich was published in Women's Wear Daily. The iconic photograph by her husband William Claxton became a world-wide news event.[5]

To avoid sensationalizing the design, Claxton, Moffitt, and Gernreich decided to publish their own pictures for the fashion press and news media. On June 3, editor Carol Bjorkman of Women's Wear Daily published a frontal view picture of Moffitt wearing the suit on June 3.[6] Gernreich initially never intended to produce the swimsuit commercially. He had Moffitt model the suit for Diana Vreeland of Vogue, who asked him why he did it. Gernreich told her he felt it was time for "freedom-in fashion as well as every other facet of life," but that the swimsuit was just a statement. She told him, "If there's a picture of it, it's an actuality. You must make it."[5]

Moffit initially didn't want to model the suit, afraid the photograph and ensuing coverage could get out of control. She consented to model the suit under certain conditions.[7]

I am a puritanical descendent of the Mayflower. I carried that goddamned Plymouth Rock on my back. … When I did give in, I did so with a lot of rules. I would not show myself on the runway that way. I’d do it only with Bill. Since Rudi would never ever have enough money to do this, I did it for free. But I had final say on everywhere it went photographically. Not Playboy. Not Esquire. I didn’t want to be exploited.[7]

In 1985, the Los Angeles Fashion Group staged a Gernreich retrospective, "Looking Back at a Futurist." They wanted a woman to model the monokini, but Moffitt loudly objected because she felt it would exploit Gernreich's intentions.[7] After Gernreich's death, she retained legal rights to his designs and arranged for his designs to be displayed in an exhibition titled The Total Look at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art's Pacific Design Center.[8] She also collaborated with Marylou Luther and her husband to release a comprehensive book chronicling Gernreich's designs.

Moffitt commented about the picture in 2012, "The shot seen around the world. Think of something in your life that took 1/60th of a second to do. Now, imagine having to spend the rest of your life talking about it. I think it’s a beautiful photograph, but oh, am I tired of talking about it.”[8]

Personal life[edit]

Moffit married photographer William Claxton in 1960. The couple had a son, Christopher. They remained married until Claxton's death in October 2008.[9]

In popular culture[edit]

The Chicago band The Handcuffs feature the song "Peggy Moffitt" on their debut album Model for a Revolution, with famous photographs of the revolutionary model on the CD cover.[10]

Boyd Rice and Giddle Partridge released a limited edition vinyl called Going Steady With Peggy Moffitt in 2008.


Year Title Role Notes
1955 You're Never Too Young Agnes Uncredited
1956 Meet Me in Las Vegas Showgirl Uncredited
1956 The Birds and the Bees Penny Uncredited
1958 Senior Prom Girl With Holder
1959 The Young Captives Teenager Uncredited
1959 Up Periscope Jukebox girl Uncredited
1959 Battle Flame Nurse Fisher
1959 Girls Town Flo Alternative title: The Innocent and the Damned
1960 Alcoa Theatre Dodie Charles Episode: "Capital Gains"
1960 Goodyear Theatre Dodie Charles Episode: "Capital Gains"
1960 The Alfred Hitchcock Hour Robin Rath Episode: "Beast in View"
1966 Who Are You, Polly Maggoo? Mannequin/Model French title: Qui êtes vous, Polly Maggoo?
1966 Blowup Model Uncredited
1967 Basic Black Model


  1. ^ You're Never Too Young at the Internet Movie Database
  2. ^ a b Drohojowska-Philp, Hunter (2011). Rebels in Paradise: The Los Angeles Art Scene and the 1960s. Macmillan. p. 96. ISBN 1-429-95899-5. 
  3. ^ Moore, Booth (March 3, 2013). "Cultural Touchstone: Peggy Moffitt". 
  4. ^ Lowery, Allison (2013). Historical Wig Styling: Victorian to the Present. CRC Press. p. 194. ISBN 0-240-82124-6. 
  5. ^ a b "The Rudi Gernreich Book". Retrieved 11 January 2013. 
  6. ^ "The Rudi Gernreich Book". Retrieved 11 January 2013. 
  7. ^ a b c Amorosi, A.D. "Q&A: Peggy Moffitt". The Philadelphia Citypaper. Retrieved 11 January 2013. 
  8. ^ a b Pinto, Phil (May 18, 2012). "Peggy Moffitt: The Total Look" (video). Retrieved 11 January 2013. 
  9. ^ Martin, Douglas (October 14, 2008). "William Claxton, Photographer, Is Dead at 80". 
  10. ^ Cain, Tim (2006-05-05). "One man's truth is another's ...". Herald & Review (Lee Enterprises). Retrieved 2008-01-20. 

Additional reading[edit]

  • Peggy Moffitt, William Claxton: The Rudy Gernreich Book, Rizzoli International Publications (1991)

External links[edit]